Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-01-11
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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This book explores the links among ecology, disease, and international politics in the context of the Greater Caribbean - the landscapes lying between Surinam and the Chesapeake - in the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. Ecological changes made these landscapes especially suitable for the vector mosquitoes of yellow fever and malaria, and these diseases wrought systematic havoc among armies and would-be settlers. Because yellow fever confers immunity on survivors of the disease, and because malaria confers resistance, these diseases played partisan roles in the struggles for empire and revolution, attacking some populations more severely than others. In particular, yellow fever and malaria attacked newcomers to the region, which helped keep the Spanish Empire Spanish in the face of predatory rivals in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century, these diseases helped revolutions to succeed by decimating forces sent out from Europe to prevent them.

Author Biography

J. R. McNeill is University Professor in the History Department and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His book include The Mountains of the Mediterranean World (Cambridge University Press, 1992); Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (2000), co-winner of the World History Association book prize and the Forest History Society book prize and runner-up for the BP Natural World book prize; and The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (2003), co-authored with his father, William H. McNeill.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xi
List of Abbreviations Used in the Footnotesp. xiii
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
The Argument (and Its Limits) in Briefp. 1
The Argumentp. 2
The Limits of the Argumentp. 5
The Limits of the Novelty of the Argumentp. 8
Setting the Scene
Atlantic Empires and Caribbean Ecologyp. 15
Atlantic American Geopolitics, 1620-1820p. 15
Ecological Transformation in the Caribbean, 1640-1750p. 22
Yellow Fever and Caribbean Ecologyp. 32
Yellow Fever Transmission and Immunityp. 40
Epidemic Yellow Fever and Plantation Sugarp. 47
Malaria, Mosquitoes, and Plantations of Sugar and Ricep. 52
Climate Change, El Niño, Mosquitoes, and Epidemicsp. 58
Conclusionp. 60
Deadly Fevers, Deadly Doctorsp. 63
Early Yellow Fever Epidemics and Their Victimsp. 64
A Virulent Strain of Medicinep. 68
Conclusionp. 86
Imperial Mosquitoes
Fevers Take Hold: From Recife to Kouroup. 91
The Dutch in Brazil, 1624-1654p. 92
The English in Jamaica, 1655-1660p. 97
The Scots at Darien, 1698-1699p. 105
The French at Kourou, 1763-1764p. 123
Conclusionp. 135
Yellow Fever Rampant and British Ambition Repulsed, 1690-1780p. 137
Yellow Fever and the Defense of the Spanish Empirep. 137
The Deadly 1690sp. 144
Siege Ecology at Cartagena, 1741p. 149
The Seven Years' War and the Siege Ecology of Havana, 1762p. 169
Conclusionp. 188
Revolutionary Mosquitoes
Lord Cornwallis vs. Anopheles quadrimaculatus, 1780-1781p. 195
Introductionp. 195
Slave Risings and Surinam's Maroonsp. 195
Revolution and Malaria in the Southern Coloniesp. 198
Yorktownp. 220
Conclusionp. 232
Revolutionary Fevers, 1790-1898; Haiti, New Granada, and Cubap. 235
St. Domingue, 1790-1804p. 236
New Granada, 1815-1820p. 267
Immigration, Warfare, and Independence, 1830-1898: Mexico, the United States, and Cubap. 287
Conclusionp. 303
Conclusion: Vector and Virus Vanquished, 1880-1914p. 304
The Argument Recapitulatedp. 304
Vector and Virus Vanquishedp. 306
Disease and Powerp. 312
Bibliographyp. 315
Indexp. 363
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