Vaccination has greatly diminished death, illness and suffering in the world. But no other medical technology has been so dogged with controversy. The book chronicles the development of the key lifesaving vaccines since the 18th century. It tells the stories of great scientists and their discoveries, of the protests and pain along the stumbling path of progress. This is the first book to tell the whole story of vaccination for a general audience. In light of controversies about flu vaccine and autism, it will be of particular interest to parents, pediatricians, public health workers and anyone fascinated by medical history. Read More>>

Also Available: Table of Contents and Index

Arthur Allen is a Washington DC-based journalist who has written on vaccine issues in The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, The New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Salon and Slate.


Columbia Journalism Review

At this point, it's safe to say, most people in the United States have not been on the receiving end of midnight vaccination raids, with doctors breaking into their homes and jabbing their families with needles. It's been a long time since we saw entire cities flattened by disease. So long, in fact, that lessons from those days seem to have been lost on a few generations.We're in the midst of a confused national debate over vaccines, with some fearing immunization side effects more than the diseases they fight, and others pushing for more vaccines, at younger ages, and being baffled when parents object. Newspapers report that vaccines may or may not cause autism, autoimmune diseases, and allergies; at the same time, they warn of viral pandemics that can (and do) kill millions, and call for new vaccines to save us (from, say, AIDS, or avian flu). But when those new vaccines arrive and officials say we must give them to our children, we balk. This is nothing new: The vaccine debate has been raging for hundreds of years, because immunizations have a long and complicated history of both saving our lives and hurting us. We needed a book that laid out the history and made sense of it. There have been at least twenty books on smallpox and polio alone. But until Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver, by the science journalist Arthur Allen, no book had so carefully and clearly catalogued the history of immunization.

--Rebecca Skloot, February 2007


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