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Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World Paperback – August 17, 2004
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“Ms. Rocco tells her four-century saga briskly, with a confident blend of scholarship and memoir.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Lively, elegantly written and often fascinating” (Evening Standard (London))
“Snappy and sharp...it’s almost a crime that so heinous a disease should be treated to so grand a biography.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“An engrossing story...written with immense verve and confidence...crisp and fluent...a gripping and highly readable tale.” (New York Times Book Review)
About the Author
Fiammetta Rocco was raised in Kenya. Her grandfather, her father and she herself all suffered from malaria. Ms. Rocco's investigative journalism has won a number of awards in the United States and in Britain. She lives in London, where she is the literary editor of the Economist. This is her first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although Fiammetta Rocco's approach is idiosyncratic, it is thorough. She visited many of the key places, from Peru to the Congo, and she read some of the original documents. Also, she has had malaria herself and comes from a family with an intimate association with the disease, from Panama to her childhood home in Kenya. In the hands of a less skilled writer, her discursive approach would not have worked. Here, it works charmingly.
Not that the story has much charm of its own. Not only is malaria a nasty disease, the men who found the cinchona tree and guessed it would treat the fever and who fought among themselves over religion and profits often, ended up half- to fully mad.
The whole thing is so improbable. Malaria existed only in the Old World, the fever-tree only in the Andes of the New World. The locals drank a powder of the very bitter bark to ease the shakes, which gave the idea to a Jesuit that it might treat the fever in Rome -- at that time, 1630, fever was thought to be a disease, not a symptom.
The intellectual battles over this cure helped to dismantle the belief in Greek medicine, and, much later, the investigation of the disease's transmission also opened up an unexpected area of natural history -- human parasites mediated by insects.
One word that does not appear in "Quinine" is "vaccine." Largish sums of money and very large hopes are being invested in finding a malaria vaccine. There are reasons to think this venture will never succeed. At any event, Rocco ignores this avenue to concentrate on the tried-and-true cure.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a great purchase on a couple of accounts. First, it provides the reader with a great deal of insight on the background and history of malaria. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Irfan Halimi
Malaria has always plagued mankind. This gives us extensive history of the malaria parasite's and mankind's evolutionary response to each other. Read morePublished on November 5, 2007 by Zorrito