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.


About the Book

Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver relates the history of the development of vaccines–killed, weakened or fragmentary forms of a microbe that are injected or inhaled or ingested in order to produce immunity to the germ’s naturally occurring form. But Vaccine is more than a medical history, because the changes vaccination has wrought in society are profound. The story of vaccination also tells a lot about the human experience of modern times. It’s the saga of epidemics and how people faced them, the fear of God that disease once inspired, and the fear of the government that grows out of medical errors. It’s about what it’s like to live at a time when disease could suddenly sweep into your home and steal your child, and about the changing face of human faith at a time when infectious disease has, in great measure, been conquered, or at least tamed. It’s the story of the very human scientists–Pasteur, Salk, Sabin, Hilleman, and others—who dedicated their lives to assuring that families would never again be at the mercy of germs. It’s also about the struggle between personal autonomy and national goals, about allowing individuals to live their beliefs while still protecting the public health.

Other Articles by the Author

Arthur Allen’s published journalism includes hundreds of wire service and newspaper articles, 30 full-length magazine feature stories and more than 55 featured Web articles. He has also edited two book-length collections of investigative journalism, on water privatization and Latin American military affairs.