Book Forum — Christian McMillen’s “Discovering Tuberculosis”

This article is part of the series:



Christian McMillen’s Discovering Tuberculosis is many things, but mostly it is an account of failure.  The book is a story of disease control in the twentieth century that is anything but controlled.  McMillen gives needed attention to problems of the past that find themselves – unexpectedly, dangerously – occupying our present moment (though it should be made clear from the outset that McMillen’s is not an account built on sweeping claims, easy prescriptions, or vitriol of a predictable political character).  McMillen tells a story that is pointed and detailed, unrelenting and often exasperating, and yet surprisingly measured, not diffident but aware of the stakes of telling: “As we historians get closer and closer to the present we get nervous, because we inch closer and closer to no longer being historians” (224).  McMillen pulls tuberculosis from the twentieth century into the present without sacrificing the fullness of its history.

We hope you enjoy the comments on Christian McMillen’s Discovering Tuberculosis and his response.


Comments on Christian McMillen’s Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015):

Tuberculosis and the Danger of Forgetting Past Failures
David Jones
Harvard University

Hope, Doubt, Paradox
Erin Koch
University of Kentucky

Unknowing the Old
Janina Kehr
University of Zurich

Global Health and Transnational History
Niels Brimnes
Aarhus University

Global Tuberculosis — Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost
Christoph Gradmann
University of Oslo

A Remembrance of People Lost: Epidemiology and History
Joanna Radin
Yale University


Response to comments:

Christian McMillen
University of Virgina


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