The Moral Contagion – Julia Hauser & Sarnath Banerjee


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I wake up shivering and with a sore throat. Is it Covid? I grab a test kit and wait for the result. Luckily all is well. Most likely I have just caught a harmless cold…

This scenario has become painfully familiar to us. India was one of the countries hit hardest by the Covid pandemic, with a tragically high number of casualties. The pandemic also made some things an integral part of our lives: wearing masks, sanitizing, social distancing, isolating oneself.

None of this, however, is unique-even though the Covid virus was a new one. Over the centuries, wave after wave of the devastating plague pandemic had impacted humanity in similar ways, and the responses to the threats it posed had been similar too. From sixth-century Constantinople and fourteenth-century Europe to Islamic Spain, seventeenth-century London, eighteenth-century Aleppo, and Hong Kong, Bombay, San Francisco and South Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the history of the plague is, in a way, the story of modern civilization.

The Moral Contagion is an insightful and absorbing take on that story. Based on Julia Hauser’s rigorous scholarship and enhanced by Sarnath Banerjee’s wry illustrations, this utterly gripping book playfully melds meticulous research with imaginative storytelling to create a graphic narrative about pandemics and reflect on how societies and individuals tend to react when faced with an adversary that is, literally, larger than life.


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