Sunday, September 13, 2009


After reading several other books that explore smallpox eradication, Henderson’s account appears more in-depth and personal. It places the reader in the situation, its stresses and successes. The reality of the narrative is supported by both strong personal biases and fast-paced anecdotes. The bias is shown in dark portrayals of bureaucratic figures that were shown to impede progress instead of assisting eradication. Henderson writes with strong, liberal voice that is true to life. He is blunt and decisive, and this is reflected in the text.

The anecdotal clippings that are boxed and scattered in the book depict unique struggles and solutions of the eradication campaign. Cultural and environmental barriers of the campaign are exposed in the brief accounts. “A novel way to detect hidden cases” is one example of an unusual solution; in order to reveal denied cases of smallpox, a vehicle was driven into deep mud to interest infected villagers, bringing them out of their homes.

Henderson also emphasizes the need for rule-breaking. He boldly suggests that certain conditions require radical action. His assertions are projected by scenarios and are proven valid by the ultimate success achieved by Henderson and other members of the campaign to bring the death of a disease.

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