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 are we not doing more to eradicate one of our oldest foes? And how does a parasitic disease that we have known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly one 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 have 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 devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.
“Sonia Shah’s tour-de-force history of malaria will convince you that the real sound track to our collective fate [is] the syncopated whine-slap, whine-slap of man and mosquito duking it out over the aeons.”—The New York Times
“Brilliant.”—The Wall Street Journal
“This insightful book explores the human struggle with malaria not just from a scientific angle, which is cogently detailed without being overwhelming. But also from sociological and anthropological perspectives . . . Shah is to be commended.”—The Boston Globe
“An often rollicking read . . . Shah has put together an engrossing cast of doctors, malariologists, and historical figures.”—Time
Sonia Shah is an investigative journalist and the critically acclaimed author of The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients and Crude: The Story of Oil. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, New Scientist, The Nation, and elsewhere.