Mosquito: The Story of Man's Deadliest Foe by Andrew Spielman and Michael D'Antonio - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

A Bug’s Life

Mosquito: The Story of Man's Deadliest Foe


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.

Spielman is clearly in awe of his subject and a quotation from Havelock Elli forms an epigraph to his study: ‘If you would see all of Nature gathered up at one point, in all her loveliness, and her skill, and her deadliness, and her sex, where would you find a

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