Plagues in the Nation is a narrative history of America through major outbreaks. The book examines how law and government affected the outcome of the epidemics that struck America, and how those outbreaks have in turn shaped our government. Using the story of the efforts to contain Ebola and COVID-19, Polly Price presents a fascinating history that has never been fully explored.

“A masterful book for our times, a must-read for understanding how pandemics shape law, government, and society. Price takes us on a journey through history to offer vital lessons for the future.” —Lawrence O. Goslin, University Professor and director of the WHO Center on Global Health Law, Georgetown University.

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Q&A with the Author


The Fall 2022 issue of Emory Magazine features a Q&A session with the author. In the article “What we can Learn from America’s Pandemic Responses”, Polly Price writes about the origins of her interests in the intersection of law and public health. In 2013, she worked with the CDC in El Paso, Texas, studying the inflow of tuberculosis into the US. In 2017, she received a...

Center for international and comparative law


On October 26, the author was the guest speaker at Emory’s Center for International and Comparative Law. The full video is available here. After an introduction by Professor Jonathan Nash, Professor Price discussed disease outbreaks through the lens of history and legal intervention, drawing particular attention to the problems that federalism presents in creating and implementing a...

How Epidemics Shaped America


On September 8th, the author lectured in the Speaker Series of the Gwinnett County Public Library. The video is available online. In this narrative history of the US through major outbreaks of contagious disease, from yellow fever to the Spanish flu, from HIV/AIDS to Ebola, Polly Price examines how law and government affected the outcome of epidemics—and how those outbreaks in turn shaped our...

Law, Science and Technology at Georgia Tech


On September 1st, the author led a seminar at Georgia Tech on tuberculosis control and local public health. That seminar and the lecture that followed are summarized by Jessamyn Lockett of the campus newspaper. Lockett writes that liberal arts majors may find themselves at odds with Georgia Tech’s focus on STEM. She quotes Law, Science, and Technology (LST) director and event co-coordinator Chad...

Can state governors ban mask mandates in schools?


The mask wars are back, this time in the classroom. Many Americans continue to believe that they have a right not to wear face masks because they personally object to them. Some governors have stoked this belief by banning local schools from adopting mask mandates, fueling a debate about the safety of school children that has no common ground. School mask policies divide communities into two...


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