Sebastian Shakespeare

A Bug’s Life

Mosquito: The Story of Man's Deadliest Foe

By

Faber & Faber 247pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

Harvard Professor Andrew Spielman has dedicated his life to understanding the mosquito. Just as William Blake saw the world in a grain of sand, Spielman sees Darwinism embodied in the flying bloodsucker. Like the insect itself, his book provokes fascination and irritation. It is full of illuminating anecdotes, recherché facts, mind–boggling statistics (two million people a year die of malaria) and a lifetime’s wisdom distilled into two hundred pages. But all too often the narrative voice is drowned out by annoying buzz words (‘vector’, ‘pathogen’ and so on). Regrettably, mankind has not yet devised a prophylactic against scientific jargon.

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