Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226180007 Published November 2014
E-book $7.00 to $50.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226180144 Published November 2014 Also Available From

Disease, War, and the Imperial State

The Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War

Erica Charters

Disease, War, and the Imperial State

Erica Charters

296 pages | 3 halftones, 1 map, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226180007 Published November 2014
E-book $7.00 to $50.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226180144 Published November 2014
The Seven Years’ War, often called the first global war, spanned North America, the West Indies, Europe, and India.  In these locations diseases such as scurvy, smallpox, and yellow fever killed far more than combat did, stretching the resources of European states.

In Disease, War, and the Imperial State, Erica Charters demonstrates how disease played a vital role in shaping strategy and campaigning, British state policy, and imperial relations during the Seven Years’ War. Military medicine was a crucial component of the British war effort; it was central to both eighteenth-century scientific innovation and the moral authority of the British state. Looking beyond the traditional focus of the British state as a fiscal war-making machine, Charters uncovers an imperial state conspicuously attending to the welfare of its armed forces, investing in medical research, and responding to local public opinion.  Charters shows military medicine to be a credible scientific endeavor that was similarly responsive to local conditions and demands.

Disease, War, and the Imperial State is an engaging study of early modern warfare and statecraft, one focused on the endless and laborious task of managing manpower in the face of virulent disease in the field, political opposition at home, and the clamor of public opinion in both Britain and its colonies.

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


1. Wilderness Warfare, American Provincials, and Disease in North America
2. The Black Vomit and the Provincial Press: The Campaigns in the West Indies
3. Flux, Fever, and Politics: The European Theater of War
4. The Royal Navy’s Western Squadron: Trials, Innovation, and Medical Efficacy
5. Adaptation and Hot Climates: Fighting in India
6. Imperial War at Home: The Welfare of French Prisoners of War


Review Quotes
J. R. McNeill, author of Mosquito Empires
“In the eighteenth century by far the deadliest enemies of common soldiers and sailors were diseases such as scurvy, smallpox, or yellow fever.  Charters's new book is the first to show in any detail the degree to which British authorities struggled to secure the health and welfare of the army and navy in the several theaters of combat of the Seven Years' War.  Impressively researched in the British sources, clearly written, prudent in its judgments, and startling in some of its findings, this book will be important for all scholars of war, disease, and health.”
Wayne E. Lee | University of North Carolina
“Charters combines several key, heretofore separate strands in the history of the British empire.  In this cogent, readable, and thoroughly researched account we find discipline, racism, the Enlightenment, notions of climate and the body, military theory, emergent experimental science, governmental bureaucratic intervention, and the very nature of empire all brought to light within the lens of a key moment in the expansion of British power: the Seven Years' War.  Highly recommended.”
Harold J. Cook | Brown University
“This is an important and much-needed account of how warfare affected the development of medicine and science in the eighteenth century. The modern state was supposed to care for its people, evidenced not least in how it cared for far-flung sick and wounded soldiers and sailors, while efforts to prevent disease also helped to create the enterprise later called public health. Charters therefore puts questions of the culture of power back at the center of Enlightenment medicine.”
“Charters places medical history closer toward the center of history, which it has long deserved. . . . Charters’s research is solid, and her arguments about the state are interesting and convincing. This book will be valuable to scholars interested in the empire, the growth of the modern British state, and the evolution of medicine. In fact, it is hard not to make inferences about some of the contemporary debates about the role of government from it. An important contribution in a number of ways, it should be read beyond the scholarly community. Essential.”

Society for Army Historical Research: Award for Best First Book

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