The best 30 Public Health books

Understanding public health is essential in our ever-changing world. With this book list, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of public health, from its historical context to modern challenges. Explore the intricacies of public health policy, epidemiology, and global health, and gain valuable insights into improving the well-being of societies. Whether you're a student, a professional, or simply curious about public health, this collection is a must-read.

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What's The Social Transformation of American Medicine about?

The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr is a comprehensive analysis of how medicine and healthcare have evolved in the United States. It delves into the historical, social, and economic factors that have shaped the healthcare system, from the dominance of individual practitioners to the rise of institutionalized medicine. The book also explores the challenges and controversies surrounding healthcare delivery and policy, making it a thought-provoking read for anyone interested in the intersection of medicine and society.

Who should read The Social Transformation of American Medicine?

  • Healthcare professionals and policymakers seeking a historical understanding of the American healthcare system
  • Students and scholars of sociology and public health
  • Individuals interested in the intersection of medicine, economics, and politics

2
Public Health Books: AIDS and Accusation by Paul Farmer

AIDS and Accusation

Paul Farmer

What's AIDS and Accusation about?

AIDS and Accusation by Paul Farmer examines the social and cultural factors that have contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Haiti. Farmer challenges the prevailing blame placed on Haitian immigrants for bringing the disease to the United States, and instead highlights the structural inequalities and political dynamics that have fueled the epidemic. Through compelling case studies and meticulous research, the book sheds light on the complex interplay between poverty, power, and health, and calls for a more compassionate and effective response to the global AIDS crisis.

Who should read AIDS and Accusation?

  • Healthcare professionals and researchers studying the social and cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS
  • Students and academics in anthropology, sociology, and public health
  • Advocates for social justice and human rights in the context of global health

3
Public Health Books: The Invisible Cure by Helen Epstein

The Invisible Cure

Helen Epstein

What's The Invisible Cure about?

The Invisible Cure by Helen Epstein explores the complex and often overlooked social and political factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Through in-depth research and personal interviews, Epstein challenges common misconceptions and offers a fresh perspective on the epidemic. She also highlights the importance of addressing underlying issues such as poverty, gender inequality, and healthcare systems in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


What's The Healing of America about?

In The Healing of America, T. R. Reid examines the healthcare systems of various countries, offering a comparative analysis and exploring potential solutions for the flawed healthcare system in the United States.

Who should read The Healing of America?

  • Anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the American healthcare system
  • Individuals seeking alternative perspectives on healthcare reform and policy
  • Readers who are open to exploring different models of healthcare from around the world

5
Public Health Books: Flu by Gina Kolata

Flu

Gina Kolata

What's Flu about?

Flu by Gina Kolata is a fascinating exploration of the influenza virus and its impact on human history. From the deadly 1918 flu pandemic to the ongoing battle against seasonal flu outbreaks, Kolata delves into the science, politics, and personal stories behind this infectious disease. This book offers valuable insights into the challenges of flu prevention and the quest for effective vaccines.

Who should read Flu?

  • Individuals interested in the history and science of infectious diseases
  • People looking to understand the impact of flu epidemics on society and public health
  • Readers who enjoy engaging narratives that blend medical research with personal stories

6
Public Health Books: Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett

Betrayal of Trust

Laurie Garrett

What's Betrayal of Trust about?

Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett delves into the failures of the global public health system and the catastrophic consequences of mistrust and misinformation during a pandemic. Drawing on extensive research and real-life examples, Garrett uncovers the deep-rooted issues that have compromised our ability to respond effectively to health crises, urging us to reevaluate our priorities and rebuild a system based on trust and transparency.

Who should read Betrayal of Trust?

  • Individuals concerned about public health and global health crises
  • Healthcare professionals and policymakers looking to understand systemic issues in public health
  • Readers interested in the intersection of science, society, and politics

7
Public Health Books: Introduction to Public Health by Mary-Jane Schneider

Introduction to Public Health

Mary-Jane Schneider

What's Introduction to Public Health about?

Introduction to Public Health by Mary-Jane Schneider provides a comprehensive overview of the field of public health. It covers topics such as epidemiology, health promotion, environmental health, and healthcare systems, making it an essential read for anyone interested in understanding and improving the health of populations.

Who should read Introduction to Public Health?

  • Individuals interested in understanding the principles and practices of public health
  • Students pursuing a career in public health or related fields
  • Healthcare professionals seeking to broaden their understanding of population health

What's The Demon Under the Microscope about?

The Demon Under the Microscope by Thomas Hager delves into the gripping history of the first antibiotic, sulfa drugs. It takes us back to the early 20th century, exploring the race to find a cure for deadly infections and the groundbreaking discovery that revolutionized medicine. This book is a captivating blend of science, history, and human drama.

Who should read The Demon Under the Microscope?

  • Those interested in the history of medicine and scientific discoveries
  • Readers curious about the development of antibiotics and their impact on society
  • People who enjoy narrative non-fiction that combines science, human stories, and historical events

9
Public Health Books: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders

Geraldine Brooks

What's Year of Wonders about?

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is a gripping historical novel set in 17th century England. The story revolves around a young woman named Anna Frith, who finds herself in the midst of a devastating plague that ravages her village. As the disease spreads, Anna must summon incredible strength and resilience to protect her community and survive in a world filled with fear and uncertainty. This haunting tale explores themes of love, loss, and the indomitable human spirit.

Who should read Year of Wonders?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in the 17th century
  • Those interested in stories of resilience and survival during times of crisis
  • People who appreciate well-researched and immersive narratives

10
Public Health Books: The Health Gap by Marmot Michael, Michael Marmot

The Health Gap

Marmot Michael, Michael Marmot

What's The Health Gap about?

The Health Gap by Michael Marmot delves into the social determinants of health and the stark inequalities that exist in healthcare around the world. Marmot presents compelling evidence to show how factors such as income, education, and social status have a direct impact on an individual's well-being. This thought-provoking book calls for action to address these disparities and work towards a fairer and healthier society.

Who should read The Health Gap?

  • Anyone interested in understanding the root causes of health disparities
  • Healthcare professionals looking to address social determinants of health
  • Policymakers and public health advocates seeking to tackle inequality

11
Public Health Books: The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani

The Wisdom of Whores

Elizabeth Pisani

What's The Wisdom of Whores about?

The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani is a thought-provoking exploration of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Through her experiences as an epidemiologist, Pisani challenges conventional wisdom and offers a fresh perspective on the best strategies for prevention and treatment. This book delves into the complexities of public health policies and the realities of sex work, injecting a much-needed dose of critical thinking into the conversation.

Who should read The Wisdom of Whores?

  • Individuals interested in the intersection of public health and social issues
  • Healthcare professionals seeking insights into HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
  • Policy makers and advocates working to address stigmatized and marginalized communities

What's Infections and Inequalities about?

'Infections and Inequalities' by Paul Farmer is an insightful book that explores the intersection of infectious diseases and social inequalities. Farmer draws from his experiences as a physician working in resource-limited settings to shed light on how poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to healthcare contribute to the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Through compelling stories and data analysis, the book challenges us to rethink our approach to global health and advocate for greater equity in healthcare systems.

Who should read Infections and Inequalities?

  • Those interested in the intersection of health and social justice
  • Healthcare professionals seeking a deeper understanding of global health disparities
  • Readers who want to gain insights into the challenges of combating infectious diseases in low-income communities

13
Public Health Books: The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby

The American Plague

Molly Caldwell Crosby

What's The American Plague about?

The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby recounts the devastating outbreak of yellow fever in the United States during the late 1800s. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Crosby explores the medical and political challenges faced in controlling the disease, as well as the race to find a cure. This gripping account sheds light on a dark chapter in American history and the profound impact of infectious diseases.

Who should read The American Plague?

  • Those interested in the history and impact of infectious diseases
  • Readers who enjoy compelling narratives that blend science and storytelling
  • People looking to gain a deeper understanding of public health and the challenges of controlling epidemics

14
Public Health Books: Polio by David M. Oshinsky

Polio

David M. Oshinsky

What's Polio about?

Polio by David M. Oshinsky delves into the history of one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century. It explores the medical, social, and political aspects of the polio epidemic, as well as the race to develop a vaccine. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Oshinsky sheds light on the devastating impact of polio and the remarkable efforts to eradicate it.

Who should read Polio?

  • Readers interested in the history of disease outbreaks
  • Individuals seeking to understand the impact of infectious diseases on society
  • Those who want to explore the scientific and medical advancements made in the fight against polio

15
Public Health Books: Better by Atul Gawande

Better

Atul Gawande

What's Better about?

Better by Atul Gawande explores the concept of improvement in various aspects of life, from medicine to education to business. Through real-life examples and insightful analysis, the book delves into how small changes and a commitment to learning can lead to significant advancements and better outcomes.

Who should read Better?

  • Healthcare professionals seeking to improve their practice
  • Individuals interested in personal and professional development
  • Anyone looking for practical and insightful ways to enhance their skills and performance

16
Public Health Books: The Great Mortality by John Kelly

What's The Great Mortality about?

The Great Mortality by John Kelly is a compelling account of the Black Death, a devastating pandemic that swept through Europe in the 14th century, wiping out millions of people. Through meticulous research and vivid storytelling, Kelly explores the social, economic, and cultural impact of this catastrophic event, offering a fascinating glimpse into a dark chapter of history.

Who should read The Great Mortality?

  • History enthusiasts who want to explore the impact and significance of the Black Death
  • Readers interested in understanding how diseases shape societies and cultures
  • Individuals seeking a thought-provoking and engaging account of a major historical event

What's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down about?

Title: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall DownAuthor: Anne FadimanDescription: This book tells the story of a Hmong family in California and their struggle to navigate the American healthcare system for their daughter, who has epilepsy. It explores the clash between Western medicine and Hmong beliefs, and the tragic consequences that result from miscommunication and misunderstanding. A thought-provoking and compassionate examination of cultural differences and the impact they can have on healthcare.

Who should read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down?

that explores the clash between Western medicine and Hmong culture through the story of a young girl with epilepsy. It delves into the challenges of cross-cultural communication and the complexities of treating chronic illness in a multicultural society.


18
Public Health Books: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map

Steven Johnson

What's The Ghost Map about?

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson examines the 1854 cholera outbreak in London and the investigation that led to a groundbreaking discovery in the field of public health. With meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Johnson uncovers the connection between the spread of the disease and the city's water source, ultimately changing the way we understand and combat infectious diseases. A must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of science, history, and urban development.

Who should read The Ghost Map?

  • Readers who are interested in the history of infectious diseases
  • Those who enjoy narrative non-fiction and stories of scientific discovery
  • Individuals who want to understand the impact of urbanization on public health

19
Public Health Books: Vaccinated by Paul A. Offit

Vaccinated

Paul A. Offit

What's Vaccinated about?

Vaccinated by Paul A. Offit provides a comprehensive look at the history, science, and ethics of vaccines. The book explores the development of various vaccines, debunks myths and misconceptions surrounding vaccination, and emphasizes the crucial role vaccines play in public health. It also delves into the challenges faced by scientists and the importance of ongoing research in this field. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding the significance of vaccinations.

Who should read Vaccinated?

  • Anyone curious about the history and science behind vaccines
  • Parents who want to make informed decisions about vaccinating their children
  • Healthcare professionals looking to deepen their understanding of immunization

20
Public Health Books: The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin

The Panic Virus

Seth Mnookin

What's The Panic Virus about?

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin explores the controversy surrounding childhood vaccinations and the spread of misinformation about their safety. Mnookin delves into the history of vaccines, the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, and the impact of false information on public health. Through extensive research and interviews, the book sheds light on the dangers of vaccine skepticism and the importance of evidence-based medicine.

Who should read The Panic Virus?

  • Parents who want to make informed decisions about vaccinating their children
  • Healthcare professionals looking to understand and address vaccine hesitancy
  • Individuals interested in the intersection of science, media, and public perception

What's Mountains Beyond Mountains about?

Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003) by Tracy Kidder is a compelling biography that follows the extraordinary life and work of Dr. Paul Farmer. Through his dedication to providing healthcare to the poorest communities around the world, Farmer challenges the status quo and inspires us to rethink our approach to global health and social justice.

Who should read Mountains Beyond Mountains?

  • Individuals interested in global health and social justice
  • People who want to learn about the life and work of Dr. Paul Farmer
  • Readers who enjoy captivating non-fiction narratives

22
Public Health Books: Dopesick by Beth Macy

Dopesick

Beth Macy

What's Dopesick about?

Dopesick by Beth Macy is an eye-opening account of America's opioid epidemic. Through in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Macy exposes the devastating impact of opioid addiction on individuals, families, and communities. She also uncovers the role of pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals in fueling this crisis. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand the depth of this public health issue.

Who should read Dopesick?

  • Anyone concerned about the opioid crisis in America
  • People interested in the intersection of healthcare and social justice
  • Those who want to understand the human stories behind addiction and recovery

23
Public Health Books: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793

Laurie Halse Anderson

What's Fever 1793 about?

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is a gripping historical fiction novel set during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. It follows the story of 14-year-old Mattie Cook as she struggles to survive and find her place in a city devastated by the deadly disease. Through vivid storytelling, the book offers a glimpse into the hardships and resilience of people during this challenging time in American history.

Who should read Fever 1793?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction
  • Individuals interested in the 1793 yellow fever epidemic
  • Young adult readers looking for a coming-of-age story set in a challenging time period

24
Public Health Books: And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

What's And the Band Played On about?

And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts is a groundbreaking work that chronicles the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Through extensive research and interviews, Shilts delves into the political, scientific, and social factors that contributed to the spread of the disease. This compelling book sheds light on the devastating impact of AIDS and the failure of various institutions to effectively respond to it.

Who should read And the Band Played On?

  • Individuals interested in the history and social impact of the AIDS epidemic
  • Healthcare professionals and researchers seeking insights into public health crises
  • Readers who appreciate compelling narratives that combine scientific analysis with human stories

25
Public Health Books: To Repair the World by Paul Farmer

To Repair the World

Paul Farmer

What's To Repair the World about?

To Repair the World by Paul Farmer is a thought-provoking book that delves into the complexities of global health and social justice. Through compelling stories and insightful analysis, Farmer challenges us to confront the inequities that exist in our world and offers a vision for how we can work towards a more just and compassionate society.

Who should read To Repair the World?

  • Those who are interested in global health and social justice issues
  • Individuals who want to make a positive impact in the world and are looking for inspiration
  • People who enjoy reading persuasive and thought-provoking speeches

26
Public Health Books: Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Random Family

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

What's Random Family about?

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is a powerful non-fiction book that delves into the lives of two young women and their families in the Bronx. Through years of immersive reporting, LeBlanc uncovers the complexities of poverty, love, and survival as she follows the intertwined lives of these individuals. It offers a raw and intimate portrayal of urban life and the challenges faced by those living on the margins of society.

Who should read Random Family?

  • Individuals interested in non-fiction narratives about marginalized communities
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and complexities of urban poverty
  • Readers who appreciate in-depth character studies and immersive storytelling

27
Public Health Books: My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

My Own Country

Abraham Verghese

What's My Own Country about?

My Own Country (1994) is a memoir by Abraham Verghese that recounts his experiences as a young doctor treating patients with HIV/AIDS in rural Tennessee in the 1980s. Through poignant patient stories, Verghese explores themes of acceptance, compassion, and the human connection in the face of a devastating epidemic.

Who should read My Own Country?

  • Readers seeking a thought-provoking exploration of the human experience
  • Healthcare professionals looking to gain insight into the complexities of treating infectious diseases
  • Individuals interested in issues of identity, compassion, and the impact of cultural differences

28
Public Health Books: Complications by Atul Gawande

Complications

Atul Gawande

What's Complications about?

Complications (2002) by Atul Gawande is a thought-provoking exploration of the unpredictability and challenges in the practice of medicine. Through real-life anecdotes and personal reflections, Gawande delves into the complexities and ethical dilemmas that arise in the field, offering valuable insights into the human side of healthcare.

Who should read Complications?

  • Anyone interested in the challenges and complexities of modern medicine
  • Healthcare professionals looking to gain insights into the reality of patient care
  • Individuals who want to learn about the ethical and moral dilemmas faced by doctors

29
Public Health Books: Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

Medical Apartheid

Harriet A. Washington

What's Medical Apartheid about?

Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington is a groundbreaking book that exposes the dark history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Through extensive research, Washington uncovers the unethical and often brutal treatment of black individuals in the name of scientific advancement. This eye-opening account sheds light on a disturbing chapter in the history of medicine and raises important questions about ethics and equality in healthcare.

Who should read Medical Apartheid?

  • Individuals interested in the history of medical racism and unethical medical research
  • Healthcare professionals seeking to understand and address racial disparities in medicine
  • Activists and advocates working to promote health equity and social justice

30
Public Health Books: Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag

Illness as Metaphor

Susan Sontag

What's Illness as Metaphor about?

In "Illness as Metaphor," Susan Sontag examines the way society has historically stigmatized and romanticized certain illnesses, such as tuberculosis and cancer, by attaching metaphorical meanings to them. She argues that these metaphors not only perpetuate harmful stereotypes but also hinder our understanding and treatment of the diseases themselves. Sontag calls for a more rational and compassionate approach to illness, free from the burden of metaphorical interpretations.

Who should read Illness as Metaphor?

  • People struggling with chronic or serious illnesses
  • Individuals interested in the relationship between illness and society
  • Those seeking a deeper understanding of metaphors in the context of illness

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