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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.
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 ›
There is no denying that this book's content is more historical than medical. The author, Fiammetta Rocco, highlights the names of numerous individuals that helped advance our understanding of malaria. While the art of name dropping is respectful in most cases, this book's usage of names can be overwhelming at times. If you can move past the extensive name dropping, this book should exceed your wildest imaginations; however, if you are a stickler for names, this book may cause a few headaches in the process.
Malaria was heavily misunderstood during its early inception as the book mentions. There were no shortages of educated guesses as to what caused malaria, but eventually, the general consensus was that our lovely summer insect, the mosquito, was responsible for transmitting the malaria parasite. With this revelation, hospitals began to reinvent how they treated their patients, and more importantly, how they treated malaria.
While malaria was taking the lives of many people in coastal regions, missionaries from Europe were busy promoting the catholic faith in places like Peru. Concurrently, missionaries were expanding their knowledge of Peruvian medicine by means of interacting with the indigenous people of Peru. It was through this interaction that the missionaries discovered a cure to malaria. It was rumored that a certain tree bark, known as Quinine, helped cure common fevers suffered by the Peruvian population.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wasn't clear this was a book, I was doing a search for quinine tablet, not happyPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I'm disappointed in this book because I thought it would give lots of medical information and how to use quinine and so forth and what all it can be used for, but so far I've read... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Arzella Starkey
I have Malaria and loved the book. I teach at The University of Montana and will be adding material from the book to my classes. It is full of information that I never knew. Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by david g. kerr
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