The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

Dutton. Aug. 2019. 496p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781524743413. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781524743437. SCI
The mosquito is humanity’s most deadly predator. In 2018, nearly 830,00 people died from mosquito-borne disease. Wars have been lost and campaigns derailed because of malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and other diseases. Winegard (history, political science, Colorado Mesa Univ; The First World Oil War) doesn’t add new insight to this history, but his account makes it accessible for readers of natural history. The narrative addresses the insect’s evolution and capabilities, along with its future in the face of present-day genetic research and efforts of organizations such as the Gates Foundation to eradicate malaria. The bulk of the book, however, is little more than a potted summary of world history, with an emphasis on military campaigns, one of Winegard’s enthusiasms. Though the work begins and ends well, Winegard repeats the same points often, is prone to digression, and his deployment of footnotes is heavy-handed, sometimes jejune.
VERDICT There’s room for a popular history on this fascinating topic, but readers should be cautioned that this study is uneven.

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