Mosquito Warrior: Yellow Fever, Public Health, and the Forgotten Career of General William C. Gorgas

Univ. of Alabama. May 2024. 432p. ISBN 9780817361426. pap. $39.95. BIOG
Best known for his yellow fever research, William Crawford Gorgas (1854–1920) spent his career in mosquito zones like Panama and Havana to build his expertise on scientific germ theory, modern sanitation, and public health. He believed these locales were keys to controlling mosquito-borne illnesses. Byerly’s (Good Tuberculosis Men) meticulously researched biography tells Gorgas’s life story while also exposing some of the petty politics that shaped the advancement of both his career and public healthcare. Byerly, a historian of military medicine, spends a substantial amount of time on Gorgas’s childhood, but she also notes other important and moving situations in his adult life, such as his wife’s breast cancer. This book cites numerous primary resources (letters, diaries, and more) from various special collections, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and periodicals. This title also includes black-and-white photos and illustrations and an acronyms list.
VERDICT This fascinating book is as much of an account of mosquito-borne illnesses, research, and treatment as it is the story of Gorgas’s life. Will draw biography, military history, and medical history readers.
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