How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It
A dramatic, revelatory account of the making of a global pandemic-from HIV's astonishing origins in colonial Africa to the current misdirected multibillion-dollar war on AIDS.
In this groundbreaking narrative, Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg and Harvard AIDS researcher Daniel Halperin, PhD, recount for the first time how Western colonial powers unwittingly sparked the AIDS epidemic and then fanned its rise. Drawing on remarkable new genetic discoveries, Tinderbox overturns the conventional wisdom on the origins of this deadly pandemic and the best means to fight it today.
Recent genetic studies have traced the birth of HIV to the Cameroonian jungle, where chimpanzees carried the virus for centuries without causing a major outbreak in humans. Yet during the Scramble for Africa, colonial powers blazed new routes through the jungle in search of rubber and other riches, sending African porters into remote regions rarely traveled before. It was here, during the age of European conquest, that humans first contracted the strain of HIV that would eventually cause 99 percent of AIDS deaths around the world.
Western powers inadvertently helped turn a localized outbreak into an epidemic as bustling new trade routes, modern colonial cities, and the rise of prostitution sped the path of HIV across Africa. Christian missionaries campaigned to suppress polygamy, but left in its place fractured sexual rules especially hospitable to the spread of HIV. Equally devastating was the loss of the African ritual of male circumcision, which recent studies have shown significantly helps to prevent infection.
The authors argue that the same Western arrogance that marked the colonial era has hamstrung the effort to fight AIDS. From the United Nations AIDS program to the Bush administration's historic effort, the global public health community has favored well-meaning but often ineffective Western approaches-abstinence campaigns, condom promotion, HIV testing- over homegrown African initiatives, and, until recently, ignored potentially lifesaving research about the impact of sexual behavior and male circumcision, which were considered politically incorrect.
In a riveting narrative that stretches from colonial Leopoldville to 1980s San Francisco to South Africa today, Tinderbox reveals how human hands unleashed this epidemic and can, therefore, contain it, if only we learn the lessons of the past.
BOOK I: SILENT SPREAD
2. Searching for the Beginning
3. One Tiny Speck of Truth
4. A Tale of Two Viruses
5. The Lion and Dr. Livingstone
6. Femmes Vivant Théoriquement Seules
7. The Gift
8. The Big Bang
BOOK II: AN EPIDEMIC OF POLITICS
9. Americanizing AIDS
10. It Can't Be Here Already!
11. Attention na SIDA
12. You Won't Believe
13. Fear Worked
14. Born in Africa
15. The Condom Code
16. The Beat-up
17. Things Just Fell Apart
BOOK III: THE HUMBLING
19. The Interests of the ANC
20. Poverty Trap
21. A, B, and C
22. On the Jericho Road
23. Gordon and Thandi
24. A Marshall Plan for Botswana
25. What Shall We Do?
26. Raymond the Great
27. Makhwapheni Uyabulala
28. The Flood
29. Mother and Son
30. What Shall We Do? Part II
Appendix: How the AIDS Epidemic Can Be Overcome
References to the Appendix
Additional Suggested Readings
"Remarkable...reads like a detective novel."—The New Yorker
“Gripping … buy the book.”—The Nation
"A strong warning to those who would disregard the cultural specificities of those one is trying to serve."—The New York Times (editors' choice)
"Tinderbox will help readers understand...why the period ahead is so critical in fighting the epidemic. Millions of lives depend on the effort."—The Washington Post
“In addition to a useful history of the disease, Timberg and Halperin examine how to confront it and develop more effective ways to fight it…[Timberg and Halpern] present a forceful case with which future students of HIV and AIDS will have to reckon.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“An essential and engrossing read, Timberg and Halperin’s sweeping work covers AIDS from its origins…to its impact on the world today…Extensively researched, eminently readable and accessible, Timberg and Halperin’s work is a notable and invaluable addition to the AIDS canon.”—Booklist (starred review)
"Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin have written a searing book about the AIDS epidemic. Tinderbox is an indictment of Western ineptitude and meddling and lost opportunities to prevent millions of infections and deaths. But it also contains valuable prescriptions for making changemdash;and it's an important read for anyone who cares about Africa."
—Stephanie Nolen, author of 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa
"Timberg and Halperin have been challenging conventional wisdom (and behavior change skeptics like me) for years. Their book is entertaining, thought-provoking, human, and in the end, hopeful for a continent that craves some answers after two decades of HIV prevention failures."
—Francois Venter, M.D., president, Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
"The sometimes glorious, often tragic constellation of science, politics, and personalities in the fight against AIDS comes to life in the masterful storytelling of an energetic journalist and a passionate scientist."
—Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver
"An excellent read. Tinderbox brilliantly outlines the successes, failures, and missed opportunities in the battle of HIV prevention over the last thirty years."
—Elly Katabira, M.D., president, International AIDS Society
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