The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS Paperback – 6 Jul 2009
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'[A] rollicking, eye-opening, hilarious account of the underbelly of international AIDS research ... Forget everything you've ever gleaned from boilerplate stories about AIDS research: The Wisdom of Whores vibrates with "I've been there" authenticity' Philadelphia Enquirer 'An absorbing read - Her book has freshness, charm and innocence, reminding us of the core elements that remain at the heart of this epidemic' Independent '[A] wonderful book on the salamagundi of money, politics, hypocrisy and obduracy (or possibly just plain stupidity) in what she calls the business of AidsA"' Telegraph 'A beguilingly rigorous expose - engaging, well written and entertaining' Times 'A major book' Daily Telegraph 'Pisani packs quite a punch. Her book - ignited a mini-firestorm of controversy - It exploded several prevalent myths about the diseases' Irish Sunday Independent
About the Author
Elizabeth Pisani studied Chinese at Oxford before working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, the Economist and the Asia Times. She has an MSc in Medical Demography and a PHD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She has worked in the field of HIV prevention for a decade, for organisations including UNAIDS, WHO and Family Health International.
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Top Customer Reviews
It makes quite a number of vibrant points, that boil down to "to stop HIV spread you need to do nice things for whores, junkies, and gay guys, and lots of people don't want to." And there are wonderful anecdotes, like the erotic Chinese classic novel she appropriated for a lesson in relationship networks and reality check for a Chinese apparatchnik, or how she rescued a night's worth of samples from a couple of Indonesian policemen...
I'll just say, go out and buy this book, it will entertain you and outrage you and leave you with a faint sense of hope in the human race.
She talks about her experience in Indonesia putting surveillance of HIV into practice (and all the problems associated with this, including the very different sexual identities and risk groups which she came across in Asia), her work with African companies and NGO/government funding and organisation hypocrisies. She leaves discussing the infectious mechanisms of HIV a bit late in the book, but this doesn't undermine the message that The Wisdom of Whores is trying to get across (that we can and should tackle the spread of HIV in a different way, that we have the tools and need to use them).
A note on the title - ignore it, because it makes this sound like a pile of pop-science crap, which it is not. I feel that this was chosen as an eye-catching cover rather than one which appeals to the target market of interested, not-necessarily-scientist individuals with some focus on health. Before I bought this I read a review which claimed there was no actual wisdom from whores in the book, which I found hilarious having read it - there are very good anecdotes and plenty of personal stories from those in the sex industry, and wisdom too.
I found this book hard to put down, which is something I haven't found since I read Goldacre's Bad Science book. The writing style is almost on a par with his, and Pisani is occasionally very funny on top of being insightful. The tone is sometimes forced but overall it's not detrimental to the ease of the read. If you want to know anything about HIV, epidemiology, politics, the sex industry or even Asia in general, this is a fascinating book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
…is what Elizabeth Pisani says she does for a living. She says that it is a lot easier than trying to explain that she is an epidemiologist working in HIV/AIDS prevention and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by John P. Jones III
There is a lot information in this book in terms of statistics but Elizabeth does put her point across quite clearly. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jolin S
Great read changed what I thought I knew about HIV especially in the african context. I recommend reading to dispel the mythsPublished 19 months ago by tari_mg
A great insight into the UN, international cooperation, politics and epidemiology. Candid and refreshing. Well worth a read and highly recommended.Published 21 months ago by Adam
Written by someone who clearly knows her stuff and it is both witty and informative. Really REALLY enjoyed it. :)Published 21 months ago by c nicholls
Very interesting & informative book, not just about the epidemiology of HIV and how to spreads, but also about the politics of HIV and some of the stories of people living with the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Belbo
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