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Book and Media Reviews
March 14, 2012

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Medicine, St John Hospital & Medical Center, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan (

JAMA. 2012;307(10):1089-1090. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.275

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox, by William H. Foege, provides a firsthand account of the chronology of the efforts to successfully eradicate smallpox in the world. Although a leader of the team that eradicated smallpox, Foege points out that this was an effort of thousands who worked on the global smallpox effort in the 1960s and 1970s. The book thus provides a perspective on the control of smallpox different from that provided by D. A. Henderson, who headed the World Health Organization's eradication efforts. However, there are obvious similarities in the control measures. The eradication of smallpox is truly one of the great success stories of infectious diseases medicine and public health and has been heralded as a triumph of modern medicine.

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