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Author Wiedenmann, Robert N., author

Title The silken thread : five insects and their impacts on human history / Robert N. Wiedenmann and J. Ray Fisher
Published New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2021]
Online access available from:
ProQuest Ebook Central    View Resource Record  


Description 1 online resource (xxi, 268 pages) : illustrations, maps
Contents Cover -- The Silken Thread -- Copyright -- Dedication -- Contents -- List of Figures -- List of Table -- Preface -- Acknowledgments -- SECTION 1 -- 1. Moth Spit -- Silkworms -- Breeding for Silk -- Agricultural Revolutions -- Silk -- Sericulture -- Silk as Currency -- Silk and Other Ancient Fabrics -- 2. The Silk Roads -- Nomads, Horses, and Silk -- The Royal Roads -- The Silk Roads-​Hexi Corridor and Tarim Basin -- The Silk Roads-​Sogdiana -- Caravanserais -- Samarkand and Bukhara -- The Emir, the Ark, and the Pit -- Silk, Spices, Religion -- The Decline Begins -- Mongol Domination
Not the End-​Change -- Notes -- 3. Silk Goes East and West -- Expanding the Roads -- Silk Goes East -- Silk Goes West -- Silk-​Making Moves -- Silk Intrigue -- Silk in the Byzantine Empire -- Silk Goes to Europe -- The Jacquard Loom and Its Impacts -- Notes -- SECTION 2 -- 4. In Reverse Order-​The Third Pandemic First -- The Beginning -- Rodents -- The Third Plague Pandemic -- Discovery -- Mechanisms -- Fleas -- And More Fleas -- Plague, Again -- Explanations, Missed Opportunities -- Notes -- 5. Not Just the Plague -- The Dark Ages -- Justinian and the Byzantine Empire -- The First Pandemic
The Pandemic Continues -- The Black Death Appears -- Pathways for the Plague -- Spread in Europe -- Two Pandemics -- Notes -- 6. Sorting Out the Plague -- Investigating the Plague -- The Pathogen -- The Routes -- Mammal Hosts -- Was It the Rats? -- Insect Vectors -- Other Fleas -- Was It Fleas? -- The Story Continues -- Other Implications -- Notes -- 7. The Plague, One More Time -- Attempted Eradication -- Introduction to Bioweapons -- Japanese Bioweapons: Diseases and Insects -- Unit 731 -- Desperate Moves -- Notes -- SECTION 3 -- 8. Lice in War and Peace -- Introducing the Amazing Louse
An Unexpected Tangent -- Body Lice -- Jail Fever -- Lice and the Great Hunger -- Coffin Ships -- Lice and Typhus -- Lice in War Time -- Lessons Learned -- Notes -- SECTION 4 -- 9. The Bridge Connecting Silkworms to Mosquitos -- Sugar -- Sugarcane -- From Ancient Origins -- Portugal, Prince Henry, and Madeira -- Infamy -- The Slave Trade Begins -- Sugar-​and Slaves-​On the Move -- Stealing a People -- Voyages, Perils, and History -- Notes -- 10. Yellow Fever in the United States -- Outbreaks in the Southern United States -- "Yellow Jack" Moves to Memphis -- Means of Escape -- Cause of the Disease
Weaponized Yellow Fever -- The Carrier-​Aedes aegypti -- From Africa to the Americas -- The State of Knowledge -- Understanding -- Notes -- 11. The Caribbean, Carlos Finlay, Walter Reed, and Serendipity -- Sugar Connects to Slavery -- Early Players -- A Singular Obsession -- Unknown, but Connected, Discoveries -- Short, Deadly War -- Walter Reed Enters the Fray -- Back to Finlay -- "Absolutely Incontrovertible Demonstration" -- "Silliest Beyond Compare"-​But Correct -- 12. William Crawford Gorgas and the Panama Canal -- Right Person for the Job -- Eradicate Mosquitos? -- Circling the Enemy
Summary "Insects are seldom mentioned in history texts, yet they significantly shaped human history. The Silken Thread: Five Insects and Their Impacts on History tells the stories of just five insects, tied together by a thread originating in the Silk Roads of Asia, and how they have impacted our world. Silkworms have been farmed to produce silk for millennia, creating a history of empires and cultural exchanges; Silk Roads connected East to West, generating trade centers and transferring ideas, philosophies, and religions. The western honey bee feeds countless people, and their crop pollination is worth billions of dollars. Fleas and lice carried bacteria that caused three major plague pandemics, moved along the Silk Roads from Central Asia. Bacteria carried by insects left their ancient clues as DNA embedded in victims' teeth. Lice caused outbreaks of typhus, especially in crowded conditions such as prisons and concentration camps. Typhus aggravated the effects of the Irish potato famine, and Irish refugees took typhus to North America. Yellow fever was transported to the Americas via the trans-Atlantic slave trade, taking and devaluing the lives of millions of Africans. Slaves were brought to the Americas to reduce labor costs in the cultivation of sugarcane, which was itself transported from south Asia along the Silk Roads. Yellow fever caused panic in the United States in the 1700s and 1800s as the virus and its mosquito vector migrated from the Caribbean. Constructing the Panama Canal required defeating mosquitoes that transmitted yellow fever. The silken thread runs through and ties together these five insects and their impacts on history"-- Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Description based on online resource; title from digital title page (viewed on September 17, 2021)
Subject Insects -- History
Silkworms -- History
Insect pests -- History
Insects as carriers of disease -- History
Insects as carriers of plant disease -- History
Insect pests.
Insects as carriers of disease.
Insects as carriers of plant disease.
Silk Road -- History
Asia -- Silk Road.
Genre/Form Electronic books
Form Electronic book
Author Fisher, J. Ray, 1981- author.
LC no. 2021023161
ISBN 9780197555590