The Health of Nations

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Pages: 304
Subject: Health, Science
Imprint: Oneworld
Illustrations: 10 greyscale chapter frontispieces

The Health of Nations

The Campaign to End Polio and Eradicate Epidemic Diseases

Karen Bartlett

A thrilling account of the war against infectious disease and how we can win the battles to come
9781786070685 (2 Mar 2017)
RRP £18.99 / US$27.99
9781786072665 (1 Mar 2018)
RRP £10.99 / US$16.99

The Book

No one will ever again die from smallpox. With the battle won against that ‘most terrible of the ministers of death', an unprecedented humanitarian coalition has now turned its attention to polio, malaria and measles. While recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika suggests that the idea of an end to epidemic disease is nothing more than a pipe-dream, this brave new world may actually be a future within our grasp.

In The Health of Nations Karen Bartlett provides a dramatic account of the history of eradication and takes us to the front line of modern campaigns. Through the eyes of those working in the field, we see innovations and unique collaborations across cultural divides; we witness the perseverance and resilience of the quest to vaccinate every child in spite of war and strife. Taking us from the high-tech labs of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to the villages of Nigeria and the remotest areas of the Middle East, The Health of Nations is both urgent and riveting, revealing what we've achieved and how we might yet win the battles to come.

Additional Information

Subject Health, Science
Pages 304
Imprint Oneworld
Illustrations 10 greyscale chapter frontispieces


About the Author

Karen Bartlett is a journalist, film-maker and Sunday Times bestselling author whose writing has appeared in the Sunday Times, The Times, Guardian, Newsweek, New Statesman and Wired. Previously she worked with Nelson Mandela and United World Colleges, the Fabian Society, and as director of the human rights campaign group Charter88. She lives in Barnet, London.


‘A fantastic story about the oddballs and outcasts, hippies and billionaires who have saved millions and millions of lives. As exciting as a thriller and with a happy ending that gives us hope for humankind.'

- Johan Norberg, author of Progress

‘Well-researched and accessible… Her writing is clear yet nuanced, and offers compassion, a broad respect for history, and the skills of a strong storyteller.'

- CHOICE Magazine

‘Bartlett makes it abundantly clear that research to reduce the impact of infectious disease is progressing but that politics, budgetary constraints, competing priorities, and ego clashes are serious impediments.'

- Kirkus

‘Anyone interested in public health and its interface with politics will find both hope and frustration here…a fascinating look at epidemiology and the challenges that public health workers face.'

- Library Journal

‘This book is so engaging that I read it in one sitting…I recommend it in the highest possible terms.'

- W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University

‘…describes the heroic efforts, the thrill of success, the challenges and the tragedy of failure…[it] kept me turning the pages until late in the night.'

- Nicholas Grassly, professor in Vaccine Epidemiology, Imperial College London


- Publishers Weekly

‘A deft combination of history and palatable scientific reportage.'

- Geographical