Looking for a book to read over the holidays about one of public health’s biggest achievements? You’ll enjoy a new book written by Dr. Bill Foege called House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox. Dr. Foege was a key leader in the smallpox eradication effort. He joined the CDC in 1962 in the Epidemic Intelligence Service program and worked as an epidemiologist early in the eradication effort- becoming the chief of CDC’s Smallpox Eradication Program in the 1970s. He eventually served as the CDC’s Director from 1977 to 1983. He was later the executive director of the Carter Center and is now a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- which does some of the most innovative and progressive public health work in the world these days. Interesting career for sure.
The book doubles as an autobiography and non-fiction mystery- told from the perspective of somebody on the “inside” during of one of public health’s greatest achievements. It introduces you to the key players involved with the intervention efforts and gives you a feel for what it’s like to do boots-on-the-ground public health grunt work in developing countries. You’ll also learn a lot about epidemiology along the way, and get a feel for what it’s like to be a teammate in a campaign that changed the world. Since you contribute to programs that change Arizona every day- you’ll be able to relate. You can order the (hard-copy) book on-line from the University of California Press for about $30.