Professor Markowitz’s New Book Asks Bold Questions about Research, Industry and Public Health

Gerald Markowitz, Distinguished Professor of History at John Jay College and the CUNY Graduate Center, has a newly released book titled, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children, which is co-authored with David Rosner, Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Public Health and Professor of History at Columbia University, and published by University California Press.

Lead Wars uses the class action lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University filed in Baltimore accusing the institution of conducting unethical human experiments on African American children as the linchpin for examining the state of public health and research in the U.S. in the 21st century.

“What are the underlying values that have led much of the public health community to abandon its prior commitment to the prevention of a threat such as lead poisoning in favor of a mere reduction in the harm it will inflict?” posit Markowitz and Rosner.

Lead Wars is the first book to shed light on these issues, taking a timely look at the major challenges facing public health today.

In Mother Nature Network it was reported that “Lead Wars clearly shows that the scandalous and tragic history of lead is one that our society is doomed to repeat over and over again unless we develop and fight for better safeguards against chemicals and new technology.”

The authors look at how long-standing environmental threats such as lead and mercury and more recent ones such as PCBs and BPA have proven toxic even at low levels of exposure. They provide a penetrating analysis of lead poisoning over the years to the present, along with a broader discussion about the relationship between science and society, science and industry, and research ethics and patient’s rights.

To read a New York Review of Books piece on Lead Wars, , click here.

For more information on the book, click here.

Markowitz is the recipient of numerous grants from private and federal agencies, including the Milbank Memorial Fund, National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. He has been awarded the Arthur J. Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Work in the History of the Public Health from the American Public Health Association in 2000.

Together with David Rosner, he has authored and edited books and articles on occupational safety and health, including: Are We Ready? The Public Health Response to 9/11, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth Century America, Dying for Work; and Slaves of the Depression: Workers’ Letters about Life on the Job.Markowitz received his doctorate from the Department of History of the University of Wisconsin and has been teaching at John Jay since 1970.

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit