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The Mosquito: A Human History of Our…

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator (udgave 2019)

af Timothy C. Winegard (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
19914104,577 (3.53)5
A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, this text shows how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate.
Titel:The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator
Forfattere:Timothy C. Winegard (Forfatter)
Info:Dutton (2019), Edition: 1, 496 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek, Læser for øjeblikket

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The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator af Timothy C. Winegard


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Viser 1-5 af 14 (næste | vis alle)
I picked this up on a trip to Kingston, travelling there with her on a weekend excursion. We found it in a local used bookshop, and while I intended to read it and then regift to that lovely librarian cum public servant, I instead read it aloud to her so we could both listen together.

Winegard does a decent job of transiting us through time and continent to explore how mosquitos have shaped human experience, development, and history. As a retired soldier, and historian, one can tell he was drawn to anecdotes about the parasitic gnat and its effects on manoeuvre and combat. At times, this exploration felt a bit drawn out - with only cursory explorations of modern research and medicine.

Recommended as a good read for the effects that our environment has on military operations. How our fleshy, vulnerable, spaceships truly are our Achilles heel; no matter how we may strive to overcome nature. ( )
  peanutgiver | Jun 17, 2021 |
I enjoyed this more to begin with than by the time I finished. Not that I ever disliked it but I got frustrated when the promising initial chapters - a chapter each for the rise and fall of entire massive centuries-spanning empires - gave way to small fractions of USAn history. The subtitle promises "human history" but Africa is mentioned as backstory for the effect of mosquitoes on human genetics in general, and for Western slavery in particular; Asia is covered only as related to Genghis Khan, then World War Two and the Korean and Vietnam Wars; Australia and the Pacific Islands are namechecked somewhere I think; and the horrific genocides of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas are briefly discussed and then tossed aside so that chapter after chapter - fully two thirds of the book - can dwell on US colonial history.

This general bias made specific biased details really stand out, like page 286-7 which uncritically tells us that "Napoleon is credited with having crafted the only purposeful and successful deployment of biological warfare in the nineteenth century" just four pages after telling us of Louverture doing the same thing in Haiti (p.283) and two pages before telling us of how Bolivar "incorporated mosquito-borne disease into his strategy just as his predecessor Louverture had done. It was a proven war-winning strategy, and it worked for Bolivar as well" (p.289).

[Then too, the fact that the author is a historian and not a scientist is nowhere more clear than whenever he talks of organisms evolving defenses to each other as if evolution was a cunning strategem: granted his prose is vivid to the point of a deeply florid purple, but biologists worldwide would be wincing.]

All this said, what we do learn is fascinating and a really interesting 'new' point of view on history. The sheer numbers killed by mosquito-borne disease in peace-time and in war after war after war - with humans taking thousands of years to notice yeah, maybe don't fight wars in swamps, hey? I just... wanted the "human history" to cover a wider range of human history. Africa and Asia have plenty of it: it would have been nice to have spent at least a full chapter (ideally more!!) on each of them too. ( )
  zeborah | Oct 20, 2020 |
One of the best history books I have ever read, this book completely changed my view of Military, and thereby World History. A masterful pice of sleuthing which casts a whole new light on how we should look at the past. ( )
  JNSelko | Aug 8, 2020 |
This was perhaps not the best choice of books to listen to during a pandemic – just more stuff to worry about. Nevertheless, I learned a good deal, some of which I wish I didn't know.

Can a book be both dry and interesting? This one is. At a bit over 19 hours, it's a long book, and it starts way back in prehistoric times. This book covers a LOT of territory, in both time and space. It's really a book about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, with the emphasis on malaria. It's amazing how, when we think human actions have shaped history, how much control the mosquito really had in determining outcomes. The book was written by a historian so, while there is science, this is really a book of history. It had too many statistics for my little brain to hold, but I still found it quite interesting, and for the most part, entertaining. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jul 20, 2020 |
The first chapter tells you all you need to know about the mosquito as a vector of disease, and why she (it is always a she) seems particularly partial to you, which she is if you are perspiring, if you are blood group O, if you wear perfume, and if you are a beer drinker.

From there the author moves on to the many historical instances where the mosquito, and the diseases she spreads, has played a distinctive role in warfare. There are probably more than you think. In fact, in pretty much any instance where an invading army has attacked any wet, swampy, humid or steamy environment where the mosquito thrives, the invader should have worried more about disease than the defending army. Often they didn't, usually to their cost, from the Graeco-Persian wars through to the wars of the 20th century. Its remarkable that it wasn't until the 20th century that mosquitoes were discovered to be a vector for malaria and yellowfever; you would think that military planners would have noted some correlation between their soldiers being bitten by mosquitoes, and dying like flies. Apparently not though

This narrative starts to get repetitive, especially if you are familiar with the history. Fortunately for me, there is a lot here about the American Civil War, which is not a conflict I have ever really studied, so I learnt a lot there. The chapters on European malaria, particularly in Britain and in the marshes around Rome are good too, as is the discussion of generic abnormalities, such as Sickle Cell, that provide immunity to malaria, and the impact of those on the slave trade.

The problem is that Winegard, perhaps wanting to write a book of popular history, and perhaps with an eye to a TV series, insists on anthropomorphising the mosquito. She cannot be considered an ally, particularly not a fickle one, "defending the city" and constantly referring to her as General Anopheles is just irritating. Either you are writing a history book or a cartoon strip ( )
  Opinionated | Jun 13, 2020 |
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A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, this text shows how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate.

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