Del Mar author plunges into ‘The Power of Plagues’

Del Mar author plunges into ‘The Power of Plagues’

More than a decade later, Irwin W. Sherman has the book he’d always imagined.

But first, a flashback to 1988: Sherman — then a professor of parasitology and invertebrate zoology at the University of California-Riverside — is looking for a new course to teach, just as the world is gripped by the panic surrounding HIV and AIDS. Amid the pandemonium, he can’t help but be struck by students’ shoddy sense of the full immensity that is infectious disease. So he devises a course aimed at non-science students, one he hopes will bring relevance to diseases dating back to the bubonic plague.

“I was fascinated by the fact that the students of that time were really unaware of most...