by Gordon Harrison, 314 pp, with illus, $15, New York, Dutton, 1978.
Malaria, well known since the time of Hippocrates, was one of the first diseases for which a specific remedy—quinine—became available, but not until the end of the 19th century did the inner mysteries of the disease, the details of its pathogenesis, become known. The hero was Ronald Ross, a strange character indeed, who in his early life gave no hint of future greatness. In this book Harrison provides a fascinating tableau of the achievement. Ross started with negligible preliminary training. However, encouraged by Patrick Manson, he was able to overcome environmental difficulties, government red tape, official muddleheadedness, and through unremitting determination he finally achieved his goal—to find the specific parasite and prove its causal involvement in the disease.
Manson had emphasized that the mosquito was probably the vector, but there were many kinds of mosquitoes whose strict specificity, in regard to malaria, was not at first suspected. Then, too, the
King LS. Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man: A History of the Hostilities Since 1880. JAMA. 1978;240(21):2331. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290210113045