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The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria Paperback – 8 Nov 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New edition edition (8 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330481851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330481854
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 899,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[An] entertaining but sobering book...full of vivid detail" Financial Times "A serious book about a deadly diease" The Spectator "A stunning history of the hunt for a cure for malaria" Beryl Bainbridge, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

In the last 15 years Malaria has killed 60 times more people than AIDS. There still is no vaccine. The Fever Trail is a fascinating boat trip through the history of Malaria and those that have sought to cure it. It is a story of courage; of political machinations and personal bravery, of the New World against the Old. From the jungles of Peru to the high-tech labs in the USA, Mark Honigsbaum reveals the characters and events that, up until now, have been little more than footnotes in history. The Fever Trail starts with the hunt for the Cinchono tree, the tree that yielded the cure for Malaria, quinine. Markham, Ledger and Spruce, the trio of explorers given the task of transporting the tree to the colonies, gave most of their lives so that the world could be free of intermittent fevers.They never though that the disease would mutate.The modern pioneers no longer search out forests, or spend months on dangerous rivers. Instead they battle on in laboratories and facilities desperate to find what has eluded mankind for centuries. A cure. "[An] entertaining but sobering book...full of vivid detail" Financial Times "A serious book about a deadly diease" The Spectator "A stunning history of the hunt for a cure for malaria" Beryl Bainbridge, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book encompasses so much it is difficult to convey its scope in a short review. I ordered it expecting a straightforward science book about malaria, but was surprised to discover it was so much more. It starts with the romantic story of the Countess of Chinchon, and her cure from malaria in Lima in 1638, and then artfully weaves the botany and history of the cinchona tree with the stories of a series of explorers - French, Spanish, British and Dutch - who went to the Andes in search of it. For cinchona, the tree which cured the Countess, turned out to be the source of quinine and it only grew in South America. To get it, botanists had to cross the isthmus of Panama, land on the coast of Ecuador or Peru, and climb up and over the Andes, before descending to the humid cloud forests above the Amazon.It was a perilous journey and the author deals vividly and amusingly with the many mishaps along the way, making the point that so frequent did these missions to the Andes fail, it was almost as if the cinchona tree was cursed. Eventually, three explorers succeeded - all of them British - though the true hero of the tale turns out to have been a Bolivian Indian. It would be enough if Honigsbaum had stopped there, but instead he brings the story right up to date, explaining how quinine was replaced by synthetic drugs after WW2, but has enjoyed a rennaissance recently because of the spread of deadly, drug-resistant strains of malaria. His accounts of the plagues of mosquitoes on the Orinoco had me scratching all over, and his descriptions of how the malaria parasite enters and devours red blood cells made me wonder why I didn't pay more attention during biology lessons. After reading this book, I will never look at an Anopheles mosquito the same way again - not only is it, as Honigsbaum points out, probably the deadliest insect in the world but it has been decimating human settlements since the dawn of time.
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Format: Hardcover
Honigsbaum has created a little gem with this book. Lucid, engaging and dramatic is the story of those men and women who tried to ensure cinchona bark left South America. The author has managed to provide a detailed history coupled with appropriate levels of scientific explanation whilst also preserving the drama that makes this part of history so fascinating.

If you have even the faintest interest in the History of Medicine, South American History etc. then I heartily recommend this book. The fact that Honigsbaum has breathed life and coherence to a complicated history is testament to his skill.
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By A Customer on 5 Dec. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed with The Fever Trail, mostly because I had the feeling I had read most of it before somewhere. It begins in familiar territory (the hoary myth about the Countess of Cinchona supposedly being cured by quinine), and then it proceeds to tell the story of Spruce, Ross and all as they try to understand the nature of malaria and parasites. It ends with the author aimlessly travelling around with various specialists (some no more than cranks) as they try to find a vaccine. Mark Honigsbaum is quite a good storyteller, but he adds little new to the story he tells.
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