Book Review: The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria by Randall M. Packard (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press)

Johnson, R. (2010) Book Review: The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria by Randall M. Packard (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press). [Review]

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Abstract

Randall M. Packard, The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria. Forward by Charles E. Rosenberg. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. xvii + 296 pp. $24.95/£16.49. ISBN 0-801-88712-3. For many historians of science and medicine the term ‘malaria’ conjures up multiple meanings and contexts. While it is certainly associated with plasmodium larvae, mosquitoes, and tropical environments, malaria also represents old ways of knowing fevers and ailments connected with ‘bad air’, stink, filth, and decaying animal and vegetable matter. Historians have also demonstrated that malaria—our current understanding of the disease—was, at one time, endemic throughout most of Europe and North America. Today, however, malaria has been virtually eradicated in these regions, while still being endemic in most of the global south—sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, and South America. Malaria is no longer associated with the temperate west. Malaria has become a tropical disease.