Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review -Smallpox: The Death of Disease

Smallpox: The Death of disease is an intriguing, true story about the smallpox global eradication campaign told by the man who ran it himself, Dr. D.A. Henderson. After providing a solid foundation with a summary of smallpox history, he plunges into the course of eradication. Henderson gives a unique anecdotal insight into a few of the intricacies and personalities that shaped the campaign program. The story travels through each country and phase of the eradication where floods, mechanical problems and not to mention cultural resistance were around every corner. Misguided politics had a significant influence as well. Fortunately, Henderson’s hands on approach and disregard for inhibitive regulations lead the effort to success.

The reader also gets a glimpse behind the scenes of the eradication certification program as well as the chilling biosecurity issues that have surfaced post-eradication. Henderson has continued to play an important role in advising the government on how to prepare for potential bioterror attacks involving smallpox. However, he concludes with a surprising opinion about future eradication efforts.

Overall, the story is engaging from cover to cover. Henderson’s anecdotal account of the campaign provides a unique dimension, which no other smallpox literature can provide. The lessons learned from this achievement should serve as a template for future global effort as well as personal life goals. In addition, smallpox aside, this inspiring account is evidence that no obstacle can inhibit a strong a will.

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