Author(s): Mark Honigsbaum
Part science, part riveting historical adventure about one of the great scourges to afflict mankind Every year malaria kills 1.5 to 2.7 million people -- more than half of those deaths are children -- and 300 to 500 million people fall ill with the disease. As of yet, there is no cure. Malaria is a deadly virus with a vicious ability to mutate; it has, over the centuries, changed the course of history as epidemics swept through countries and devastated armies. Until the middle of the seventeenth century, little was understood about the nature of the disease, or how to treat it. But there was a legend about a beautiful Spanish countess, the Condesa de ChinchÓn, who was cured of malaria during her stay in Peru by drinking a medicine made from the bark of a miraculous tree. This is the story of the search for the elusive cinchona tree - the only source of quinine - and the trio of British explorers who were given the task of transporting it to the colonies. On a quest that was to absorb the rest of their lives, Spruce, Ledger and Markham endeavored to rid the world of malaria. But although quinine, and its chemical successors, managed to control malaria for a time, no method of prevention has been proven to be 100% effective. In laboratories and research facilities, the hunt continues - this time for a vaccine. The Fever Trail is a story of courage, of geopolitical rivalry, of the New World against the Old, of the fabled curse of the cinchona tree - and of a disease that eludes all efforts to contain it.