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Paperback | $25.00 Short | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262662031 | 296 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 12 figures, 2 tables| December 2008

Essential Info

Of Related Interest

Contagion and Chaos

Disease, Ecology, and National Security in the Era of Globalization


Historians from Thucydides to William McNeill have pointed to the connections between disease and civil society. Political scientists have investigated the relationship of public health to governance, introducing the concept of health security. In Contagion and Chaos, Andrew Price-Smith offers the most comprehensive examination yet of disease through the lens of national security. Extending the analysis presented in his earlier book The Health of Nations, Price-Smith argues that epidemic disease represents a direct threat to the power of a state, eroding prosperity and destabilizing both its internal politics and its relationships with other states. He contends that the danger of an infectious pathogen to national security depends on lethality, transmissability, fear, and economic damage. Moreover, warfare and ecological change contribute to the spread of disease and act as "disease amplifiers."

Price-Smith presents a series of case studies to illustrate his argument: the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 (about which he advances the controversial claim that the epidemic contributed to the defeat of Germany and Austria); HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa (he contrasts the worst-case scenario of Zimbabwe with the more stable Botswana); bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as Mad Cow Disease); and the SARS contagion of 2002-03. Emerging infectious disease continues to present a threat to national and international security, Price-Smith argues, and globalization and ecological change only accelerate the danger.

About the Author

Andrew T. Price-Smith is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Project on Energy, Environment, and Global Security at The Colorado College. He is the author of The Health of Nations: Infectious Disease, Environmental Change, and Their Effects on National Security and Development (MIT Press, 2002) and is the editor of Plagues and Politics: Infectious Disease and International Policy.


"A tour de force. Price-Smith's provocative book clarifies the centrality of health issues to national and international security. Carefully researched and well written, this study analyzes the complex interactions between war, ecology, political economy, and disease. Essential reading for the fields of international relations and security studies in the 21st century."
Kent Hughes Butts, Director, National Security Issues Branch, Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College

"Andrew Price-Smith has been the pioneer in studying the linkages between infectious diseases and state stability, opening new vistas for political science. This book develops a framework for analyzing the impacts of disease on state capacity'health security,' as Price-Smith aptly dubs itand lucidly illustrates these connections through a number of valuable case studies. Even those well versed in infectious diseases will find new and thought-provoking material in this book."
Stephen S. Morse, Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University

"Andrew Price-Smith has written a primer, both sophisticated and accessible, for all who are interested in global health policy. He draws from diverse and multidisciplinary sources, and convincingly links growing public health challenges to the fragility of our contemporary world order. His book deserves a wide readership and careful attention."
Louis W. Pauly, Director, Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto

"Andrew Price-Smith has contributed a fascinating perspective on epidemics (historical and modern). He brings numerous disciplines to the table to thoughtfully knit the best thinking in political science, economics, sociology, and public health together. The book expands our view of how epidemics and pandemics change our lives and history."
Ann Marie Kimball, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, author of Risky Trade: Infectious Disease in an Era of Global Trade