Tony Gould

Fixing malaria

A book about a campaign to rid the world of malaria may not sound like a riveting read and Lifeblood is an unlikely page-turner. But you are soon caught up in the challenges of the campaign and, along the way, you learn a great deal about the labyrinthine world of aid, Africa, business and politics.

A rich harvest

Coda, by Simon Gray Were Simon Gray alive today, I could not have reviewed this book. Friends should not review each other’s work or reviewing becomes a form of puffery. But death changes everything. Coda, so named because it rounds off the trilogy of ‘Smoking Diaries’ (The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer and

Megalopolis and micro-organism

The story of Dr John Snow’s investigations into the causes of the cholera epidemics in mid-Victorian London has been written up several times, most recently in a book by Sandra Hempel which I reviewed in these pages six months ago. So do we need yet another account of them? Perhaps not, except that Steven Johnson

A blot on the imperial escutcheon

The massacre of nearly 400 unarmed civilians and the wounding of over 1,000 others in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh (a barren enclosure walled in by houses) on the unlucky 13 April 1919 has a far greater historical resonance than the incident would seem to merit. This is not to make light of what the Secretary of

Fits and starts

A book with a title like Epileptic does not raise high expectations: will it be an account of suffering nobly borne, or a worthy medical treatise perhaps? Not a bit of it, this memoir is a graphics extravaganza spread over 361 pages, bursting with energy and wild imaginings, a comic tour de force that is

The lighter side of gender politics

The sixth in the ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series of novels is as delightful as any of its predecessors. Mma Ramotswe and her able assistant, Mma Makutsi (‘the most distinguished graduate of her year from the Botswana Secretarial College’ with a 97 per cent pass mark), continue to dispense true justice in a corrupt

Fruits of empire

Since Henry Hobhouse wrote his story of five plants that changed the world, Seeds of Change, nearly 20 years ago, the history of commodities has become a fashionable literary genre. So he must rate as one of its pioneers. But unlike many of his imitators, he has not been content to make a whole book

Of rats and men

This racy tale of plague in the modern era focuses on two outbreaks 100 years apart: Hong Kong 1894 and Surat 1994. Edward Marriott treats the earlier outbreak as an episode of medical detection, in which two competing scientists, a famous Japanese and a less well-known Frenchman, are bent on discovering the bacillus that causes