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, 208 pages

9 halftones, 1 line drawing

April 2003



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Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States

In Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, Margaret Humphreys presents the first book-length account of the parasitic, insect-borne disease that has infected millions and influenced settlement patterns, economic development, and the quality of life at every level of American society, especially in the south.

Humphreys approaches malaria from three perspectives: the parasite's biological history, the medical response to it, and the patient's experience of the disease. It addresses numerous questions including how the parasite thrives and eventually becomes vulnerable, how professionals came to know about the parasite and learned how to fight them, and how people view the disease and came to the point where they could understand and support the struggle against it.

In addition Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States argues that malaria control was central to the evolution of local and federal intervention in public health, and demonstrates the complex interaction between poverty, race, and geography in determining the fate of malaria.

Margaret Humphreys received her Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in the history of science, followed by the M.D. degree in 1987 from Harvard Medical School. After residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, she practiced medicine for another three years in Quincy and Braintree, MA. In 1993 she moved to Duke University in Durham, NC, where she practices medicine and teaches in the Department of History. She also edits the Journal of the History of Medicine and is the author of the book Yellow Fever and the South .

"This is a fresh (and plausible) explanation for the disappearance of another southern germ of laziness, and it is presented in a study that does a fine job of packaging its findings within a richly documented historical context."

"Margaret Humphrey's monograph on malaria in America has a strong storyline and a well-articulated thesis. It combines modern knowledge of malaria transmission and the genetic basis of resistance with a sound appreciation of the social, geographical and cultural nuances of the disease in American history."

"A fascinating story of the spread of malaria through the USA following its introduction in the 17th century, through its greatest geographical coverage in the 19th century."

"The main purpose of this book is to carry out an in-depth dialogue on the mystery of malaria and its existence in some parts of the world and disappearance in another based on the historical facts... The insight that [this] history provides has enormous value for global health."

"[ Malaria] is a masterpiece and is recommended reading for anyone involved in or interested in health care."

"A complex and fascinating story of the social history of malaria."

"Gracefully written, perceptive, and well-documented, it will make historians of medicine, public health, and the social history of the American South grateful for her efforts. "

"The lack of jargon makes the book accessible to a wide audience."

"Accessible to a wide audience. A great breadth and depth of research underpins each chapter."

"Humphreys, trained both as a physician and a historian, is uniquely qualified to tell the story of malaria in the United States. She uses her medical knowledge and her understanding of the social history of the United States, particularly of the South, to reveal malaria's previously unexplored American career. It is a story containing some unexpected twists that Humphreys reveals with thoughtfulness, elegance, and wit. She allows readers to see malaria's history from the various perspectives of physicians, patients, communities, and public health workers."

" Margaret Humphrey's eminently readable and convincing history of malaria in the United States follows in the tradition of Erwin H. Ackerknecht's classic study, completing the story that work began by describing malaria's last stand in the southeastern United States and by carefully analyzing the factors which let to its final demise. More than an exercise in historical epidemiology, this book offers fascinating insights into scientific and popular ideas concerning disease and healing."

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