How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years
By Sonia Shah
Sarah Crichton Books, Hardcover, 9780374230012, 320pp.
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause célèbre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have lent their names—and opened their pocketbooks—in hopes of curing the disease. Still, in a time when every emergent disease inspires waves of panic, why aren’t we doing more to eradicate one of our oldest foes? And how does a parasitic disease that we’ve known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly 1 million of them?
In The Fever, the journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer these questions, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. Through the centuries, she finds, we’ve invested our hopes in a panoply of drugs and technologies, and invariably those hopes have been dashed. From the settling of the New World to the construction of the Panama Canal, through wars and the advances of the Industrial Revolution, Shah tracks malaria’s jagged ascent and the tragedies in its wake, revealing a parasite every bit as persistent as the insects that carry it. With distinguished prose and original reporting from Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and elsewhere, The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.
“The Fever is a vivid and compelling history with a message that’s entirely relevant today.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
“I didn’t just read The Fever—I inhaled it. It’s a fascinating book, elegantly written and superbly well researched: a poignant and important reminder of malaria’s relentless human toll.” —Nina Munk, author of Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner
“A thrilling detective story, spanning centuries, about our erratic pursuit of a villain still at large and still a threat to mankind. The Fever is rich in colorful detail and engagingly told. An astonishing array of characters has joined the fray, and you can only be amazed at the deviousness and skill of the archenemy.” —Malcolm Molyneux, Professor, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
“Extremely well-researched, The Fever provides a highly gripping account of one of mankind’s worst diseases. Highly recommended.” —Bart Knols, malariologist and managing director, MalariaWorld.org
If public health officials know how to prevent malaria, the mosquito-borne pathogen that kills more than a million people each year, why isn't more being done to eradicate the infectious disease? That's the question journalist Sonia Shah decided to answer in her book, The Fever, which examines why malaria continues to spread around the globe. More at NPR.org
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