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FEATURING JOHN FABIAN WITT – The coronavirus pandemic has upended our way of life like nothing else in recent memory. But it is certainly not the first infectious disease to plague societies. How governments respond to epidemics and pandemics are a test of their commitment to human rights and equality as well as how they prioritize individual freedoms over collective safety.

Today as basic safety measures requiring public cooperation are victim to hyper-politicization, we look back at the history of American Contagions – which is also the title of a new book.

John Fabian Witt, Professor of Law and History at Yale, where he serves as Head of Davenport College. He is author of the Bancroft Prize–winning Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History. His latest book is called American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19.

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