Shah gives a history of malaria, from a variety of angles. She writes a bit about the disease cycle, which happens to be insanely complicated. I knew a little, but my mind blew up a little bit when I read about the ways in which the parasite manipulates its mosquito host as well as how there are 4 “strains” of malaria caused by 4 different parasite species that occur in different locations, have different life cycles and are more or less deadly. She gives accounts of malaria’s impact in various centuries in America, Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and Rome. Through wars and conquests, settlements and expansions, malaria was there making its mark. So fascinating. She also talks about the progression of drugs and technologies (including an entire chapter on DDT) to treat the disease, what has gone well, and what has not gone so well. Bed nets, sprays, pills, vaccines, prophylactics, treatment side effects, initiatives, research, politics. It’s all there.
I learned a lot from this book, and found it to be approachable and readable, informative yet not overwhelmingly packed. If you want to know more about malaria and get a great overview as well as some reasonable depth, this is the book for you.