From Publishers Weekly
In his introduction, The Hot Zone author Preston points to the fact that "in smallpox's last hundred years," 1879-1979, it killed more people than "all the wars on the planet during that time." For more than 50 years, doctor and public health expert Henderson combated the disease, first as director of the Center for Disease Control's Epidemic Intelligence Service, then (from 1965 on) as director of the World Health Organization initiative which would later be known as The Eradication. Henderson provides an overview of the painful disease, "a monster" that killed roughly a third of the unimmunized it infected. Chillingly, "variolation," the direct subcutaneous injection of a patient's pus into a healthy person, was used to spur immunity from before the 10th century. The much safer cowpox vaccination was discovered in 1796 (mandated by Washington for the Continental army); meanwhile, smallpox had decimated the Native American population. Henderson's "surveillance and containment strategy" would indeed eradicate smallpox globally; India, the last holdout, was rid of it in 1974 by 115,000 health workers, dispatched to villages throughout the country to identify, quarantine, and vaccinate. This inspiring achievement makes a stirring read for medical history fans, though readers of Preston may find it a bit dry.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Outstanding! What a great read. D.A. Henderson pulls no punches as he tells the inside story of the global eradication of smallpox. He and his WHO team faced a formidable array of obstacles, frustrations, and outright disasters in their decade-long struggle; any one of a hundred of which could have doomed the effort to failure....The passion, commitment, and raw determination shine through. THIS is the heroic stuff of true public health leadership!" --Donald S. Burke, MD
, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Jonas Salk Chair in Global Health, University of Pittsburgh
There has been no greater medical --or humanitarian--miracle in modern times than the eradication of smallpox, history's deadliest infectious disease. Now, for the first time, we learn the inside story from D. A. Henderson, the legendary public health official who led the global effort that brought this miracle about. Smallpox--The Death Of A Disease
is more than a riveting account of the day-to-day struggle for international cooperation in a divided world; it also offers a winning blueprint for the great medical challenges to come." --David Oshinsky
, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story
"Thorough, balanced and well-crafted, Smallpox--The Death of a Disease is the story of one of mankind's greatest achievements. The success of the eradication campaign is a testament to the difference the global public health community can make when it truly comes together for a common purpose. Whether one speaks of HIV/AIDS or Neglected Tropical Diseases, the solution lies in allies and adversaries working as one to alleviate suffering and save lives. This is the lesson to be drawn from Dr. Henderson's excellent book." --Tommy G. Thompson
, Secretary of Health and Human Services (2001-2005); Governor of Wisconsin (1987-2001)