The Fever

The Fever

How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:

In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause célèbre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have lent their names--and opened their pocketbooks--in hopes of curing the disease. Still, in a time when every emergent disease inspires waves of panic, why aren't we doing more to eradicate one of our oldest foes? And how does a parasitic disease that we've known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly 1 million of them?

In The Fever , the journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer these questions, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. Through the centuries, she finds, we've invested our hopes in a panoply of drugs and technologies, and invariably those hopes have been dashed. From the settling of the New World to the construction of the Panama Canal, through wars and the advances of the Industrial Revolution, Shah tracks malaria's jagged ascent and the tragedies in its wake, revealing a parasite every bit as persistent as the insects that carry it. With distinguished prose and original reporting from Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and elsewhere, The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.

Publisher: New York : Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374230012
Branch Call Number: 614.532 SHAH
Characteristics: 307 p. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 31, 2016

Thoroughly researched, full of keen observations and wry humour. Highly recommended.

Quimeras Oct 27, 2012

“The Fever” provides quite a complete picture. The book not only covers the science but also explores the history, socio-economic and political aspects of malaria. It is filled with interesting facts and offers different perspectives on the subject. I highly recommend it.

Apr 18, 2012

The Fever ----- by Sonia Shah. A nasty creature, or a whole family of creatures to be exact, known as Plasmodium spp. , more commonly just known as Malaria; a number of different species of mosquitoes; a variety of environmental controls; and lots of people and you have the recipe for widespread Malaria epidemics. A disease that has widely been ignored by the western media nonetheless claims hundreds of thousands of lives each and debilitates millions more. A disease once common even in Europe, North America, and England; a disease that often took as many lives in war as did the guns of the belligerents it is now a disease that, in the main, is ignored in the countries of the first world while it continues to wreak its havoc in the third.
Shah writes an eminently readable work about this disease that covers many of its aspects: it’s supposed origins; how this disease kills and maims; its historical significance; the environmental conditions under which it thrives and under which it is stressed; past and current programs which have attempted to contain and eradicate; and finally why this disease has proven to be more difficult to treat and control than any of the others faced before it.
The book is well organized; highly readable; the language free of the jargon that could get in the way of understanding; and the subject itself is riveting.
As they say in fiction reviews: a good read.

nftaussig Feb 01, 2012

Shah, a journalist whose childhood memories of visits to India include the bed nets her relatives used to protect her from malaria, describes malaria, its effect on human history, and efforts to control the disease. Much of the material here is fascinating. Shah describes why the presence of malaria limited European efforts to colonize Africa until drugs such as quinine and chloroquine were discovered that combat the disease (however, other diseases such as yellow fever also played a major role). She also discusses how the slave trade and the habitat destruction caused by dam building contributed to the spread of the disease. Shah explains how improved drainage and mosquito habitat destruction in the developed world eliminated malaria there. Much of the book is devoted to discussing efforts to eradicate the disease through the use of antibiotics that kill the parasite that causes the disease and pesticides that kill the mosquito vector. Shah also explains why those efforts have failed due to antibiotic and pesticide resistance, lack of access to medical care in the developing world, and cultural differences. What mars the book is that she never discusses the life cycle of the parasite that causes malaria and discusses the behavior of the parasite that causes the disease in nebulous and misleading anthropomorphic terms. Also, Shah's explanations of how antibiotic and pesticide resistance develop are vague.

Nov 15, 2010

Well-researched, richly illustrated with examples from Cameroon, India, Malawi, Panama, and elsewhere.

A thrilling detective narrative, this book details the persistence of the disease and our inability to eradicate malaria.

I could NOT read the entire book in the time frame provided. I should borrow it some other time.


Add Age Suitability

nftaussig Jan 31, 2012

nftaussig thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

nftaussig Feb 01, 2012

Sonia Shah, a journalist whose memories of childhood visits to India include the bed nets her relatives used to protect her from exposure to malaria, writes about malaria and the difficulties in eradicating, or even controlling, the disease. She describes the origins of the various strains of human malaria, then describes how the presence of malaria in Africa limited European efforts to colonize that continent and how the slave trade contributed to the spread of the disease. Next, she considers the ecological conditions that favor or limit the spread of the disease. The remainder of the book is devoted to her discussions of efforts to contain the disease through the use of drugs such as quinine and chloroquine, the use of pesticides such as DDT to kill the mosquito vector, and the destruction of mosquito habitat through improved drainage or the removal of dams. Shah also discusses how these efforts have been limited by antibiotic and pesticide resistance, limited access to medical care in the developing world, and cultural differences.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SAPL

To Top