This is a brief and well-annotated review of tuberculosis as a public health problem in the United States, primarily from the mid-1800s through World War I. Although the legal, social, and financial aspects of the disease are the primary focus of the author's attention, many well-known medical leaders from that era are frequently mentioned. The current resurgence of tuberculosis in conjunction with the major public health problem of today, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), makes this a timely publication. The past problems of containing tuberculosis when prevention was impractical, specific treatment was unavailable, young adults were the predominant victims, and mortality rates were high bear a striking similarity to the current AIDS crisis, but this obvious parallel is not discussed.
The first two chapters provide a cursory historical review of tuberculosis and society from ancient times to the beginning of the 20th century, at which time the bacterial cause of