hits counter The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

Availability: Ready to download

A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, showing how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate Why was gin and tonic the cocktail of choice for British colonists in India and Africa? What does Starbucks have to thank for its gl A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, showing how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate Why was gin and tonic the cocktail of choice for British colonists in India and Africa? What does Starbucks have to thank for its global domination? What has protected the lives of popes for millennia? Why did Scotland surrender its sovereignty to England? What was George Washington's secret weapon during the American Revolution? The answer to all these questions, and many more, is the mosquito. Across our planet since the dawn of humankind, this nefarious pest, roughly the size and weight of a grape seed, has been at the frontlines of history as the grim reaper, the harvester of human populations, and the ultimate agent of historical change. As the mosquito transformed the landscapes of civilization, humans were unwittingly required to respond to its piercing impact and universal projection of power. The mosquito has determined the fates of empires and nations, razed and crippled economies, and decided the outcome of pivotal wars, killing nearly half of humanity along the way. She (only females bite) has dispatched an estimated 52 billion people from a total of 108 billion throughout our relatively brief existence. As the greatest purveyor of extermination we have ever known, she has played a greater role in shaping our human story than any other living thing with which we share our global village. Imagine for a moment a world without deadly mosquitoes, or any mosquitoes, for that matter? Our history and the world we know, or think we know, would be completely unrecognizable. Driven by surprising insights and fast-paced storytelling, The Mosquito is the extraordinary untold story of the mosquito's reign through human history and her indelible impact on our modern world order.


Compare

A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, showing how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate Why was gin and tonic the cocktail of choice for British colonists in India and Africa? What does Starbucks have to thank for its gl A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, showing how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity's fate Why was gin and tonic the cocktail of choice for British colonists in India and Africa? What does Starbucks have to thank for its global domination? What has protected the lives of popes for millennia? Why did Scotland surrender its sovereignty to England? What was George Washington's secret weapon during the American Revolution? The answer to all these questions, and many more, is the mosquito. Across our planet since the dawn of humankind, this nefarious pest, roughly the size and weight of a grape seed, has been at the frontlines of history as the grim reaper, the harvester of human populations, and the ultimate agent of historical change. As the mosquito transformed the landscapes of civilization, humans were unwittingly required to respond to its piercing impact and universal projection of power. The mosquito has determined the fates of empires and nations, razed and crippled economies, and decided the outcome of pivotal wars, killing nearly half of humanity along the way. She (only females bite) has dispatched an estimated 52 billion people from a total of 108 billion throughout our relatively brief existence. As the greatest purveyor of extermination we have ever known, she has played a greater role in shaping our human story than any other living thing with which we share our global village. Imagine for a moment a world without deadly mosquitoes, or any mosquitoes, for that matter? Our history and the world we know, or think we know, would be completely unrecognizable. Driven by surprising insights and fast-paced storytelling, The Mosquito is the extraordinary untold story of the mosquito's reign through human history and her indelible impact on our modern world order.

30 review for The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raughley Nuzzi

    This was an extremely disappointing book. What I'd hoped would be a revelatory work on epidemiology and anthropology was quickly discovered to be a florid, Western/American-centric military history, with some cultural and social trappings thrown in for good measure. A promising opening few chapters drew me in, but by the time I hit chapter 3 or so, the whole story started to feel like a grind. Almost every chapter focused on some military campaign or other, almost to the exclusion of other consi This was an extremely disappointing book. What I'd hoped would be a revelatory work on epidemiology and anthropology was quickly discovered to be a florid, Western/American-centric military history, with some cultural and social trappings thrown in for good measure. A promising opening few chapters drew me in, but by the time I hit chapter 3 or so, the whole story started to feel like a grind. Almost every chapter focused on some military campaign or other, almost to the exclusion of other considerations. Where you might have expected to learn how South Asian cultures grew and evolved alongside mosquitoes and their tropical diseases, or what ancient China did about malaria (beyond the author's small mention of some traditional Chinese medical treatments), you instead get a march through Western military history from the Peloponnesian War to WWII. Often, campaigns are recounted in some detail, for the paragraph to end with "And the soldiers were being eaten by mosquitoes all the while." The few bright spots in the book were also riven with obnoxious anthromorphizations of the mosquito as "General Anopheles." Cute the first time, it quickly grated on me. Furthermore, many of the elaborate metaphors felt misleading, if not wrong. "The parched mosquito" feasted on the "virgin blood" of Mongol warriors in Eastern Europe, for example. Why "parched"? Had mosquitoes not been feasting on Hungarians and Poles and were they abnormally malnourished? Why "virgin blood"? Had the Mongols not encountered malaria up to that point? Were these fresh young troops recruited from the north Caucasus or Kazakhstan where malaria was scarce? No explanation for this type of word choice exists. Instead, it feels like the author wrote this book with a thesaurus close at hand, thumbing through it for substitutes and alliterative synonyms that distracted from the message or gave false impressions; while "contagion" is a loose synonym for "disease," it doesn't describe malaria, which is not contagious. Another frustration is the Euro-American focus of the book. Famously, European conquest of Africa was perennially thwarted by tropical disease. I (wrongly) assumed that the chapter on "Expansion and Imperialism," following the entire chapter devoted to the US Civil War, would involve the scramble for Africa and how Europe was finally able to conquer the continent. Nope. Instead, the Spanish-American War and the occupations of the Philippines and Hawaii took up most of the chapter. The Panama canal gets a deserved mention, but Africa and South East Asia only received a few paragraphs' nod. Unfortunately, the book reads like a wikipedia page, replete with tangential anecdotes about pop culture and bizarre time jumps (Pay close attention to which World War is being discussed sentence to sentence) as the author tries to organize his thoughts. This book could have used a few more edits and a major expansion of its focus if it really wants to be "A Human History" of the mosquito. When the author admits in the intro that he is an historian, not an entomologist or epidemiologist, take heed. Even then, he seems like a superficial historian, at best. If you're "famished" for a book about the impact of mosquitoes on human history, I suggest you look elsewhere.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I was intrigued, a 486 page book on the mosquito. What could possibly be written about this menace that could take up so many pages? Well, I found out. This is about the mosquito, but from a military and political viewpoint, battles and Generals. I did not expect to be taken back to 400 BC and the Peloponnesian War, where the mosquitos feasted on the Athenians leaving Sparta untouched. To the death of Alexander and even the Magna Carta. Mosquito sided some, decimated others. The most prolific ki I was intrigued, a 486 page book on the mosquito. What could possibly be written about this menace that could take up so many pages? Well, I found out. This is about the mosquito, but from a military and political viewpoint, battles and Generals. I did not expect to be taken back to 400 BC and the Peloponnesian War, where the mosquitos feasted on the Athenians leaving Sparta untouched. To the death of Alexander and even the Magna Carta. Mosquito sided some, decimated others. The most prolific killer in the world. I'm not a reader who favors a author inserting himself in a work of non fiction, which he did fairly often. Coming from Chicago though, I had to chuckle when he compared the Crussders to Al Capone's thugs. Plus, the disease causing mosquitos came with the slaves in the 1600's, arriving in America on the while. So, it's chock filled with information, but it is easy to infer that the authors first love is the battles. There is also much repetition, and if I heard at the end of another battle, the refrain, but the mosquitos, the mosquitos, well.. interesting in parts but also glad it's over. The narrator is Mark Desmond and I loved his voice. He gets a five.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicole von Buelow

    More like a long book about military history with malaria thrown in

  4. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    2.5 Stars! “The mosquito has killed more people than any other cause of death in human history. Statistical extrapolation situates mosquito-inflicted deaths approaching half of all humans that have ever lived.” OK so let’s get something clear from the off, this is not a book about the mosquito. It is a book of detailed and often exhausting historical and military events throughout history with the mosquito’s part in it, shoe horned in retrospectively. Without doubt there is plenty of fascinating a 2.5 Stars! “The mosquito has killed more people than any other cause of death in human history. Statistical extrapolation situates mosquito-inflicted deaths approaching half of all humans that have ever lived.” OK so let’s get something clear from the off, this is not a book about the mosquito. It is a book of detailed and often exhausting historical and military events throughout history with the mosquito’s part in it, shoe horned in retrospectively. Without doubt there is plenty of fascinating and in depth historical detail in here, but there is also a lot of superfluous information which has very little to do with the subject matter. So let’s start off with the good stuff, the case of former NFL player Ryan Clark and Sickle cell anaemia was really well-told. We learn that this was a revolutionary counter offensive against Falciparum malaria. “The cell became sickle (or crescent) shaped. Normal, healthy red blood cells are cast from donut or oval template. The malaria parasite cannot latch on to the strange-shaped sickle cell.” People like Clark are blessed with 90% immunity from Falciparum but prior to modern medicine the life span of those with it was around 23 years old. Today there are 50-60 million carriers worldwide, with 80% still living in sub-Saharan Africa. We learn about Duffy negative, (which closes the portal denying the parasite entrance to the red blood cell.) Around 97% of West and Central Africans carry the mutation, making them impervious to vivax and knowlesi infections. The Pygymy are 100% Duffy negative. Whilst this was the first of the four genetic human malaria responses, it was the last to be scientifically unmasked. Though the downsides are carriers have a higher disposition to asthma, pneumonia and various cancers. Apparently increases susceptibility to HIV infection by 40%. Apparently Blood type O get bitten twice as often as those with type A, type B falling somewhere in between. Certain chemicals also attract them, particularly lactic acid. Pregnant women suffer twice as many bites as they exhale around 20% more carbon dioxide. The mosquito can smell it from 200 feet away. Bright colours, alcohol and applied fragrances are also all known attractors. Stinky feet attract them though a stinky body repels them. “During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, nearly half of all Europeans who ventured into Caribbean waters were killed by mosquito-borne disease.” This book is close to an outstanding read until we get to the chapter 3 on page 57 and it is like we have suddenly fallen into a completely different book about ancient Greek history and its wars, yes this does contain mentions of malaria, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t call for the exhaustive history lesson we get. But he isn’t finished there. We then get a lengthy history of Rome, American Civil War, British and Spanish colonialism and many more wars. I obviously got the point he was trying to make, and yes there was some worthwhile information and facts in there, but Jesus he didn’t have to give us a repeated, drawn out history lesson to do so. It should have been edited right down. I can’t believe how quickly it killed the momentum and structure of the book. So this starts off being a book about the mosquito, but it soon becomes a book on history with mosquito as an afterthought. This got so tedious and long-winded at times I felt like I was trapped in one of the many mosquito ridden swamps he keeps harping on about, every excessive word, detail and war we got dragged through in often tedious, irrelevant detail was like another malaria ridden mosquito I had to bat away. This reads like he has went back to his historical thesis and retroactively inserted as much as he could about malaria and mosquitoes into it, tweaked it a bit and then said there we go, history of the mosquito. This starts incredibly well and finishes strongly but the bulk of matter in between was rambling, patchy and tedious. This could have and should been better edited, it has its fascinating moments and he clearly knows his history, but it is a little cheeky to be calling it “The Mosquito".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Interesting but meanders I enjoyed this book. As Timothy Winegard mentions, this is more of a history book than a science book, however what little science there is, is clearly explained. Winegard shows a good sense of humor in his writing, but otherwise I found his writing slighted stilted and lacking the conversational tone I like in science writing. I also found that the book took long irrelevant detours through history, so there were pages I just glossed over. For the reader looking for more Interesting but meanders I enjoyed this book. As Timothy Winegard mentions, this is more of a history book than a science book, however what little science there is, is clearly explained. Winegard shows a good sense of humor in his writing, but otherwise I found his writing slighted stilted and lacking the conversational tone I like in science writing. I also found that the book took long irrelevant detours through history, so there were pages I just glossed over. For the reader looking for more specific information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, I recommend Molly Caldwell Crosby’s “The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History” and Sonia Shah’s “The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years.” However if the reader is more interested in the broad sweep of history, then The Mosquito is a fine book. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley for review purposes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    An important thing to keep in mind before reading further: This book is not a biology/parasitology/virology/epidemiology book. This is a history book (it says so on the front cover) written by a history professor (it says so on the back cover). The author uses the mosquito to shed light on historical events and how the mosquito with the diseases it transmits may have influenced them and therefore history. The book starts out recounting historical events that encompass the world and then zooms in An important thing to keep in mind before reading further: This book is not a biology/parasitology/virology/epidemiology book. This is a history book (it says so on the front cover) written by a history professor (it says so on the back cover). The author uses the mosquito to shed light on historical events and how the mosquito with the diseases it transmits may have influenced them and therefore history. The book starts out recounting historical events that encompass the world and then zooms in on the American continent for several chapters then WWII. So, if you're not a history person and you're looking for something more biology oriented, walk away, this book is not for you, and picking it up then giving it a low rating would not be fair because it is a well written, rich, history book. It says so ON THE COVER. If you like history, especially if you're interested to learn how America was recreated after Columbus stumbled upon it, this is definitely for you. First impression: I have only read the introduction so far. I am desperately hoping that the rest of this book will be as good as the introduction. But after only reading the introduction I decided to give it a five-star, which is not something I have done before, and which is not something I think is fair to anyone wanting to buy the book and looking at this rating as a rating of the entire book (a reason I might consider revisiting this rating only if the quality of the books drops down dramatically) nevertheless I am doing this. This introduction is absolutely captivating from the very start: "We are at war with the mosquito" is reminiscent of iconic opening phrases that some books become famous for, like Albert Camus's "Mother died today." Then the author starts hitting us with astonishing information and statistics. We don't have time to recover before he hits us with Karl Marx's powerful quote "men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please." Please! He uses phrases that sound like poetry to my ears; "Our relatively short human journey from our first steps in and out of Africa to our global historical trails is the result of a coevolutionary marriage between society and nature.", " our immune systems are finely tuned to our local environments. Our curiosity, greed, invention, arrogance, and blatant aggression thrust germs into the global whirlwind of historical events." The writing style leaves me wanting the author to speak more to me. I can go on for hours talking about how much I like this introduction! I went in with a highlighter I have not used yet because I did not want to highlight the entire introduction. I can't wait to turn the other pages of this book! Update after five chapters: Five chapters in, I wish I could give this book 6 stars! I am happy to say so far it has certainly lived up to my expectations! This book is a gem, it's one of the best impulsive book-buying decisions I have made, and it's going to my must-read list of books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    A western and North American-oriented, world history for a popular audience using mosquito-borne disease as the root-cause for historical events. My dead tree copy of the book was a weighty 496 pages. It had a 2019 US copyright. Timothy C. Winegard is a Canadian, PhD historian and author of non-fiction. He has written four (4) academic history books. This is the first book of the author's that I have read. I have a morbid fascination for mosquito-borne diseases. It’s part of my general, long-term i A western and North American-oriented, world history for a popular audience using mosquito-borne disease as the root-cause for historical events. My dead tree copy of the book was a weighty 496 pages. It had a 2019 US copyright. Timothy C. Winegard is a Canadian, PhD historian and author of non-fiction. He has written four (4) academic history books. This is the first book of the author's that I have read. I have a morbid fascination for mosquito-borne diseases. It’s part of my general, long-term interest in epidemiology. I have read several books on mosquitoes and their diseases in the past. I also fancy myself an amateur historian. That's why I thought this book may be of interest to me. Up-front in the book, the author declares himself to be a historian, and not a scientist. He then dispensed with an in-depth biological study, of his mosquito main character. The narrative was mainly in a historical context. However, he could get very detailed in areas of science when it supported his narrative. The general thesis of this book is that mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease have greatly affected human history up to the post-modern era. They have even affected human genetics through an evolutionary response to their diseases. The book starts with a brief discussion of the mosquito and the several pathogens they can harbour. It then moves into a long, world history beginning in the pre-Stone Age. The author uses a popular approach in the narrative, mixing ‘Pop-culture’ and academic references to illustrate points. Almost all truly significant events that changed human civilization are attributed to the effect of mosquito-borne diseases. The narrative becomes more detailed in the Christian Era (CE AKA AD). It becomes almost exclusively a western and Anglo-American history as it approaches today. Before the modern era humanity was the prey of the mosquito. In the modern era, through technology, the effect of mosquitoes on history has been marginalized. The final sections of the book describes future mosquito-bourne threats and trends in their mediation. Frankly, this book was a disappointment to me. The author dismissed an in-depth introductory discussion of: mosquito entomology, microbiology, mosquito-borne disease pathology including parasitology, and epidemiology for a chronological historical narrative. Malaria and the Anopheles mosquito were the best covered. However, there was no serious discussion of the mosquito genus differences between the main human predators of: Anopheles, Aedes and Culex. These are the mosquitoes responsible for the historical killing diseases of: malaria (four (4) different types), Yellow Fever and Dengue, and arbovirus infections (like Zika) respectively. Of particular interest to me is Mosquito habitat. It was only sketchily discussed. The main discussion involves mosquito habitat growth due to agricultural and urban development of water resources, and human population movement into newly inhabited areas. Only at the very end, does the author mention geography and mosquito habitat. That was in the context of the future threat of Global Warming in the final chapter. Global Warming is extending mosquito habitat above its historical 2000m altitude ceiling. That is, there were historically fewer mosquitoes in high altitude cities ( like Denver (1500m)), than sea level or slightly higher elevation cities in the same climate zones. Only recently have mosquitoes appeared in Flagstaff, AZ (2100m). The historical mosquito-bashing narrative was very repetitious. By the fifth-example, I got it. Mosquito-borne diseases have been Weaponized for millennia. The affect has been both intentional and unintentional. The same repetition appeared with the mention of each of the several ways human activity has increased disease bearing mosquito habitat to our detriment. The author could easily have spared his readers many pages, by using a single, deep-dive, illustrative example of the points made in a single, representative historical context. In addition, the author's insistence that almost every significant event in western history had mosquitoes involved stretched his credibility. The historical survey was also lopsided. It was mainly a western history. Toward the end, it became almost exclusively an Anglo-North American history. (The Canadian author included many Canadian, mosquito predation examples.) All world civilizations have experienced mosquito-borne diseases. For example, descriptions of the mosquitoes affects during the ancient and medieval eras were almost exclusively Mediterranean and European. Very little was written about their effect on the Chinese, South Asian (Indian), and Persian population centers. At one time or another, they had larger populations then Europe and the Mediterranean-- therefor more mosquitoes. I don't recall any discussion on the effect of mosquito-borne diseases on Japan before the modern era. The author also had a peculiar quirk for making points. When a particular point or person's contribution to mosquito history was to be made, he would introduce it. Then he would carry it forward discussing its effect for several years, decades or even centuries from the point of introduction. When done, he would return to his starting point in history; resuming the historical narrative. For example, the tropical disease expert Walter Reed was introduced after the American Civil War in the narrative. Reed’s career and accomplishments were discussed all the way through to his death before WWI. Then the author snaps-back the narrative to just shortly before American Spanish-American War (when Reed was introduced). The historical narrative resumed from there. I found this moving forward and then back in time, only to go forward again very confusing. The narrative was written as a popular history, and not a strictly academic one. Yet the author couldn't purge himself of his academic background. The author’s prose was workman-like. He tried to spice-up the narrative with many pop culture references, and clever turns-of-a-phrase. In places I found it too flowery and folksy. I much preferred it when he was wearing his PhD hat, and not a backwards cap. I quickly began to find the two styles cohabitating the narrative to be annoying. Firstly, Pop-culture will quickly date the book. Secondly, he was repetitious with his little darlings. For example, I began to cringe over repeated uses of “General Anopheles and General Aedes” in the many references to weaponization of malaria and Yellow Fever in wartime. Finally, there was a truly odd mishmash of academic references, fiction and media. References to Hollywood movies and serious, published, academic works of epidemiology really shouldn’t share a page. For example, the discussion associating the Walt Disney movie Pocahontas (1995) with early American, colonial malarial epidemics was weird. I suspect the author was shooting for a television mini-series through this Pop-culture approach? Geography on this globe spanning history was only weakly correlated to its main character. I could never be certain when the mosquito breeding season was in: Bombay (India), Alexandria (Egypt), Rome (Italy) or Port au Prince (Haiti)? General Anopheles is a weak flyer. Her territorial range is also only about 800m. Historically, nothing seemed to happen 2.5 km upwind from wetlands? Finally, the best part of this book were the last four (4) chapters. This is the period from the Spanish American War to the near future. These chapters describe when human civilization stopped being the hapless prey to mosquito-borne diseases. They cover: the development of health and sanitation efforts at mosquito control and the development of effective treatments for the diseases. They also go on to describe the mosquito and disease evolution in response to this change. These chapters had the distinct advantage of the author not belaboring the same points over millennia. I learned a few things I didn’t know from this book. However, the book was not what I expected. It felt bloated as a history that belabored only a few critical points over many millennia. The book was longer than it had to be, because it was a Western Civilizations 101 and 102 survey course with the human disease bearing mosquito as its main character. The author had only a few main points, but he stretched them out over human history with recurring examples. For example, the weaponization of mosquito borne disease, mosquito-borne diseases driving human evolution, and human activity increasing mosquito habitat were amongst the key takeaways. I got it with the third historical example. The book could easily have been 200-pages shorter by not encompassing all of western history. Also the character development of the mosquito narrative hook received short-shrift. For example, in the same way there are many types of cats (lions, tigers, and Maine Coon Cats); there are many types of mosquitoes. Each genus has a different set of human pathogens. This was muddied. The Western Civ Survey approach left the reader knowing more about the Carthaginian, General Hannibal, than Winegard’s General Aedes. Finally, Winegard was not persuasive in convincing me that every significant event in western human history until about WWII was driven by mosquitoes. Yeah no.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    This book took awhile to read. I was to consumed with the American presidential race to do much of anything else. The mosquito is an apex predator of man that causes many diseases but Donald Trump was a danger to our democracy. The first part of the book talks about the mosquito. The appendages of the insect are broken down and shown how they work. We learn about its birth, nutrition and death cycle. We also learn about the diseases this creature harbors. Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever to name This book took awhile to read. I was to consumed with the American presidential race to do much of anything else. The mosquito is an apex predator of man that causes many diseases but Donald Trump was a danger to our democracy. The first part of the book talks about the mosquito. The appendages of the insect are broken down and shown how they work. We learn about its birth, nutrition and death cycle. We also learn about the diseases this creature harbors. Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever to name a few. Next we learn how the mosquito changed world history.the Peloponnesus war, Roman wars, The revolutionary war and the Civil war, amongst other were shaped by malaria. The author also talks about how we have fought the mosquito with the ultimate goal of eliminating the pest from the face of the earth. This could be done by playing with the DNA of the mosquito by a gene splicer system called Crispr.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (Audiobook) Before reading this book, I would often think of the mosquito as the spawn of Satan, with its annoyance, its relentless biting and all that mosquito bites lead to as far as disease. After reading this book, I no longer think of the mosquito as the spawn of Satan...that bug IS Satan! I am seriously wondering if we didn’t mis-translate the Bible, that is was not the serpent that lead to man’s downfall, but the mosquito. It is said that man does not have any natural predators except man (Audiobook) Before reading this book, I would often think of the mosquito as the spawn of Satan, with its annoyance, its relentless biting and all that mosquito bites lead to as far as disease. After reading this book, I no longer think of the mosquito as the spawn of Satan...that bug IS Satan! I am seriously wondering if we didn’t mis-translate the Bible, that is was not the serpent that lead to man’s downfall, but the mosquito. It is said that man does not have any natural predators except man, yet the most dangerous animal to our species is the mosquito (with the flea also in the discussion). Last year, the mosquito killed more people than other people did, and by a wide margin. In this interpretation of history, the mosquito has had a significant impact on the course of human events. Due to the diseases they carry (malaria and Yellow fever), they have saved or ruined empires, beaten military commanders and driven human migration and economic evolution. In particular, in central Africa, humans that lived in that part of the world had their genetic make-up evolve to that they could counter the bites of mosquitoes. Sickle-cell anemia helped protect them from the mosquitoes, but unfortunately, in addition to the debilitating effects of the condition, it made them prime candidates for slaves to work the plantations and farms in the “New World”, whereas other groups, mainly Europeans, could not adapt to deal with mosquito born pathogens. In short, you take many of the evils and ills in humanity, and you could blame it on the mosquito, and at least according to this book, you would have a solid case. The reader does a good job with the material, but the writing is not dry, presenting facts and stories in an engaging manner. So, take the time to read this...and then load up on the OFF afterwards.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer M.

    The Mosquito is a compilation of sorts. It not only tells the history of mosquitoes and the damage they have done throughout the centuries, but also how we got to where society and culture is, based on this annoying little bug. The book includes pictures of different types of mosquitoes, what sort of attributes to look for, etc. I found this book fascinating. There were so many things I didn't realize that history was shaped by, one of which being a blood-sucking bug. The Mosquito is informative, The Mosquito is a compilation of sorts. It not only tells the history of mosquitoes and the damage they have done throughout the centuries, but also how we got to where society and culture is, based on this annoying little bug. The book includes pictures of different types of mosquitoes, what sort of attributes to look for, etc. I found this book fascinating. There were so many things I didn't realize that history was shaped by, one of which being a blood-sucking bug. The Mosquito is informative, astounding and, at times, even a little frightening. But mostly, this book opened my eyes to things I never would have conceived of. And honestly, that's the best type of book. My dad's birthday was two months ago, and it looks like this will have to be a late birthday present. It's just the sort of book he loves. (And me too!) 5/5 Stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    Interesting political and military history but sadly light on natural history and science. Gratuitously breezy writing, an annoying overabundance of contemporary cultural references, and an unmitigated tendency to attribute volition to insects and microbes alike all detract from what is clearly a deeply researched narrative.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zulugoat

    Could not finish this and quit half way. My issues with it: - Starts very poorly as far as I am concerned... I am Zoroastrian. Calling Zoroastrians at the very beginning "fire-worshipping" (one of only a few epithets used in total to describe them) is: (a) insulting, (b) incorrect and debunked numerous times throughout history and (c) betrays an obvious lack or knowledge or research or both... or worse, some unclear, unknown racist bias. - With that poor start, I did genuinely try to give the book Could not finish this and quit half way. My issues with it: - Starts very poorly as far as I am concerned... I am Zoroastrian. Calling Zoroastrians at the very beginning "fire-worshipping" (one of only a few epithets used in total to describe them) is: (a) insulting, (b) incorrect and debunked numerous times throughout history and (c) betrays an obvious lack or knowledge or research or both... or worse, some unclear, unknown racist bias. - With that poor start, I did genuinely try to give the book a shot, however this is what it reads like: having a conversation with a stubborn arrogant uncle who knows enough about history to raise interesting anecdotes but persists in attempting to demonstrate that everything and anything revolves around mosquitoes. Some arguments are basically just this... "mosquitoes had a huge effect" with no underlying fact, demonstration or argument (Just saying/writing something does not make it true). - The style is at first entertaining but the problem is that the same tedious humor is essentially repeated all over the book... after a while, it is unbearable. - There are some really puzzling choices of citations from other historians. notably Harari and Diamond. Problem is that the quotations are from contemporary historians who are six million degrees removed from the actual historical facts presented. So question becomes: (a) are you trying to ride the coattails of these Historians? (b) are you trying to brag that you have read them? (c) was there no more direct primary data, work available for you to review and present here? The citations basically add absolutely nothing to the book (aside from inviting us to read other better historians). Where other writers would have chosen to put material in a "notes" section, Winegard seems to have decided that his background data is essential enough for it to be inserted in the main book. It makes for a tedious long and painful read. Look we get it, mosquitoes had a huge effect on history but this is not the way to present it. The very title of the book has already primed us for its premise, no need to structure "gotcha" style narratives. It works once but not a million times. Add that to the questionable interpretation of history or lack of knowledge and the book really doesn't add much value to anyone. Any "fact" probably needs to be rechecked anyway.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lelietje

    I hoped this book would offer an extraordinary perspective on history. It turned out to be a predominantly military history of the (western) world and the influence of mosquito-borne diseases like yellow fever, dengue and malaria on it. Unfortunately light on epidemiology and pathology.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Ullrich

    Super interesting book when it wasn't an in depth world history lesson...which was most of it unfortunately.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    When reading Mark Kurlansky's books Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and Paper: Paging Through History, Kurlansky explores the history, mythology, art, science, history, etc of the subject. Kulansky discusses these subjects from a global perspective. This creates fun interesting books. Winegard’s book is more serious---and limited in approach. The mosquito is the deadliest predator because of mosquito borne diseases. Malaria, Yellow Fever, and other mosquito borne diseases are When reading Mark Kurlansky's books Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and Paper: Paging Through History, Kurlansky explores the history, mythology, art, science, history, etc of the subject. Kulansky discusses these subjects from a global perspective. This creates fun interesting books. Winegard’s book is more serious---and limited in approach. The mosquito is the deadliest predator because of mosquito borne diseases. Malaria, Yellow Fever, and other mosquito borne diseases are estimated to have killed half of every person to have lived. Mosquitos are a global creature. They can be found on six continents and in most countries. Unfortunately, reading this book, one would think that mosquitos were unique to Middle East during the crusades, migrated to Europe, and then to the Americas in the 17th or 18th century. Mosquitos (or the absence thereof), according to the book, played a major role in very major battle, exploration, or European/American settlement over the past 800 years. The book spends relatively little time talking about the evolution of and war on mosquitos/mosquito borne diseases. The book is still interesting, but not as broad in scope as one might hope for.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jill Elizabeth

    What a fascinating book this was!! I kept reading/reciting the facts aloud to whomever was in the room or nearby when I read - there are so many intriguing and surprising things to learn here, that I felt compelled to share them. It took me a while to read - it's long and there's a LOT of information here, but it is packaged very well, although I did occasionally find that I needed to take a short break for something a little less death-and-disease focused (it is, after all, summer and I couldn' What a fascinating book this was!! I kept reading/reciting the facts aloud to whomever was in the room or nearby when I read - there are so many intriguing and surprising things to learn here, that I felt compelled to share them. It took me a while to read - it's long and there's a LOT of information here, but it is packaged very well, although I did occasionally find that I needed to take a short break for something a little less death-and-disease focused (it is, after all, summer and I couldn't make myself or my family too crazy worrying about mosquitoes to enjoy the day!)... But the writing was great - engaging and entertaining while remaining true to the fact-sharing non-fiction nature of its core.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nemo Nemo

    About the Author: Dr. Timothy C. Winegard is a military historian who graduated from Oxford University with a PhD and is currently a professor of history and political science at Colorado Mesa University. He is best known for his works on military history however, he has written on the subject of indigenous studies. Before becoming a best-selling writer, Dr. Winegard worked as a military officer with his native Canadians and later the British forces. He is a  sports fan and stalwart supporter of About the Author: Dr. Timothy C. Winegard is a military historian who graduated from Oxford University with a PhD and is currently a professor of history and political science at Colorado Mesa University. He is best known for his works on military history however, he has written on the subject of indigenous studies. Before becoming a best-selling writer, Dr. Winegard worked as a military officer with his native Canadians and later the British forces. He is a  sports fan and stalwart supporter of his favorite teams: the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings. Despite his busy schedule, the good doctor likes to spend his down time with his family at home. Who is the target audience? If you gravitate to the nonfiction, history, evolution, or similar shelves in your local bookshop, you may enjoy the exquisite prose and comprehensive research in The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator.   What is this book about? The story of The Mosquito spans thousands of years beginning with the evolution of the insect that plagues our lives to this day. Dr. Winegard’s writing style is reminiscent of Guns, Germs, and Steel or even a Simon Winchester.  The focus of the book is the intimate relationship that mosquitos and humans have shared over time, and the impact on humanities antiquity and on its future. The book is abundant in superlative research and in witty humor. By the end of the book you will be in no doubt as to the destruction this tiny insect has wrought across the human world throughout history. You will learn a plethora of facts and information through a skillful scientific style of writing. Timothy gives you the big picture, a map of the problem that allows you to trace the changes to human existence shaped by the illnesses spread by one of our most dangerous predators.  Conclusion: The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator, By Timothy C. Winegard is a masterfully written book, being both fascinating and funny. Mosquito is jam packed with in-depth and informed research. It is epic in its breadth, and chronicled with skill. Ultimately, the book is infinitely entertaining, educational, and surprising at times. The book does prompt the thought that humanity believes itself to be top of the food chain, but are we really when such a tiny combatant can wreak such havoc?  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following: Penguin Group Dutton, Dr. Timothy C. Winegard, and NetGalley for allowing me to review this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Slipak

    MY THOUGHTS: I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion. What a fascinating read! I loved the idea that one small bug could affect history so much and in such incredible ways. If you think about it, humans have always claimed to be at the top of the food chain; we're the dominant species over all else. But, we really aren't, are we? So many diseases and plagues have been attributed to the smallest of threats, things even humans can't withstand. Winegard puts science with history to t MY THOUGHTS: I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion. What a fascinating read! I loved the idea that one small bug could affect history so much and in such incredible ways. If you think about it, humans have always claimed to be at the top of the food chain; we're the dominant species over all else. But, we really aren't, are we? So many diseases and plagues have been attributed to the smallest of threats, things even humans can't withstand. Winegard puts science with history to take the reader on a fantastic journey acknowledging moments in history where humans are not at their best, and civilizations' existence are threaten or changed all because of a little bug. This book is not just a science journal about a mosquito; it's so much more. The science parts are thoroughly and carefully explained, there are diagrams and photos to accompany the evidence suggested, and, his tracing events throughout history involving disease brought on by a mosquito bite is diligently portrayed using facts and historical events. He shows how human existence has been evolved in unison with the mosquitos' constant survival and dominance over humans. Truly fascinating! The ideas Winegard suggests to tie history to the mosquito are incredible. Is it truly a predator? After reading this book, I'm a believer! I loved this book and plan on keeping it in my library.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Fleming

    THIS IS MY FAVORITE BOOK I’VE READ ALL YEAR!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Winegard is untrustworthy. He exaggerates constantly and seems to be numerically illiterate. For example, > Roman society was hampered in all directions, with fewer than half of infants surviving childhood. Life expectancy for those who beat the odds was a dismal twenty to twenty-five years. No, life expectancy for those who survived childhood was 50. Overall life expectancy was 25 because half died in childhood. How can you write a book about diseases without knowing the definition of life expe Winegard is untrustworthy. He exaggerates constantly and seems to be numerically illiterate. For example, > Roman society was hampered in all directions, with fewer than half of infants surviving childhood. Life expectancy for those who beat the odds was a dismal twenty to twenty-five years. No, life expectancy for those who survived childhood was 50. Overall life expectancy was 25 because half died in childhood. How can you write a book about diseases without knowing the definition of life expectancy? Or, take this: > He recommended for those who could afford it to build houses on high ground or hills free from swampy air, where the wind would blow away the invisible creatures. The house on the hill became fashionable for the Roman elite. This fad and practice was globally reinforced during the age of European colonization and continues to the present day. Hilltop houses in the United States are sought after by the wealthy as a status symbol and are 15–20% more expensive. Add the real estate market to the mosquito’s portfolio of influence. > Given that Americans currently consume 25% of the world’s coffee, Starbucks ought to raise a toasting glass to the tiny mosquito. This kind of nonsense is pervasive. While Winegard does give some information that was new to me, I couldn't trust any of it to be true. Another example, in his superficial discussion of CRISPR: > We have reached the point in history where we can choose life-forms to eradicate nearly as easily as we order items from a menu, pick a bingeworthy show on Netflix, or click to buy anything on Amazon. And I don't know if this untrustworthiness is the worst part of the book. Maybe even worse is the writing. It is terrible! Unbelievably bad. > The French invasion [in Haiti], like so many other ambitious would-be conquerors with delusions of grandeur, also fell to the succubus mosquito mistress of the Caribbean. Napoleon was one of the most brilliant military minds in history, but even he could not defeat Generals Aedes and Anopheles. > While the mosquito had helped Generals George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette secure American independence, she had not yet completed the finishing touches on her masterpiece designs of American Manifest Destiny and territorial annexation. General Anopheles and her compatriot General Aedes, as we have seen, are fickle friends and allies. > Given her immeasurable impact in shaping the United States, including the addition of the Louisiana Territory, the mosquito deserves a place on Mount Rushmore with her protuberant face tucked in between the grateful glances of the indebted Washington and Jefferson The over-the-top prose is pervasive. It is repetitive and very tedious.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    Like the previous book I reviewed on Squid, I had a certain expectation that this book would keep to facts. Again, where strict science was applied, what is the mosquito, what do we know about it based on what we can see, hear, touch etc.. with our senses...what kind of diseases are they known to carry...death rates due to malaria, yellow fever...this was very interesting. I also found interesting the author's dive into history...the battles of Rome with the various barbaric tribes from Germany, n Like the previous book I reviewed on Squid, I had a certain expectation that this book would keep to facts. Again, where strict science was applied, what is the mosquito, what do we know about it based on what we can see, hear, touch etc.. with our senses...what kind of diseases are they known to carry...death rates due to malaria, yellow fever...this was very interesting. I also found interesting the author's dive into history...the battles of Rome with the various barbaric tribes from Germany, northern Africa and Asia. The book is definitely slanted towards finding the mosquito responsible for winning every ancient battle, directing Alexander the Great's course across Europe and Asia, the spread of Christianity...all due to the mosquito. I have no doubt that armies plagued with malaria certainly helped shape the course of events, just like Russia's winter fended off the Germans. But his version of history took too much license and wasn't based entirely in fact. Or rather he took an ounce of fact and inflated it with a pound of guesswork. According to Winegard, Christianity spread because Christians were a "healing cult" and did not shy away from ministering to the sick and dying. Paganism was more selfish and fatalistic. He also has nothing good to say about the medieval church or the crusades. Well, maybe I don't either, but he excises every good they did, initiating institutions of learning, providing sanctuary for the poor and marginalized and shows only the corruption. There was horrible corruption in the leadership of the church then, but the average monk or priest was not necessarily a party to that corruption. Many a lay Christian and small village priest sacrificed their lives in poverty and died with his congregation when disaster struck. But I would not have minded the broad brush stroke except that Winegard brushes the Muslim world with an entirely different broad brush. It was the Muslims who enlightened Europe, the Muslims who were free of corruption, invented education etc...This is not exactly true either, although no doubt considerable contributions were made to Europe via the Middle East. The biggest sweep he makes is when he asserts that people became Christians because they had to and converted to Islam because they wanted to because it was such a merciful, enlightened culture produced by Mohammed. Really? Think again. This book was not written for someone with anything other than a cursory knowledge of the mosquito, and certainly not for anybody with an informed opinion of the history of the western world. So would I recommend it? I guess read it for yourself, but arm yourself with other sources of information.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura Jean

    If you're a general history geek like I am, you know most of this book. It's generally a book on European and US history, simply viewed through the lens of mosquito borne illnesses. I found the first two and last two chapters to be the most enlightening for me. But anyone who doesn't mind a nice history brush up should enjoy this novel approach. Unless you HATED Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. In which case, you should avoid this book like the plague.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eriche

    Far too Eurocentric for my tastes, a rehashing if US history from a white male perspective with a few attempts to not be so anxiously and repetitively solipsistic about the white male perspective. Honestly couldn’t finish it and I say this with a heavy heart because I wanted to finish the book so badly. The first 2 chapters were great but I honestly don’t need another retelling of American history from the delusional perspective of various purposeful genocides being somehow portrayed as inevitab Far too Eurocentric for my tastes, a rehashing if US history from a white male perspective with a few attempts to not be so anxiously and repetitively solipsistic about the white male perspective. Honestly couldn’t finish it and I say this with a heavy heart because I wanted to finish the book so badly. The first 2 chapters were great but I honestly don’t need another retelling of American history from the delusional perspective of various purposeful genocides being somehow portrayed as inevitable consequence. The book needed way more science and to imagine “humans” as people who were not Anglo or American.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isamar Cortes

    Very fascinating read. If you’re into epidemiology, disease and history, then this is definitely the book for you. Starting from biblical times all way up to modern day, this book covers the history of the mosquito and how it affects humans.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amber Spencer

    This was an interesting book. I was really into parts and was bored and wondering where things were going at other parts. Debating between 3-4 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy Masters

    Just a little too much credit to the Mosquito. It was too far fetched to think mosquitoes have changed the course of history. Smh.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    Dense but fascinating!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann T

    Who knew you could write so much about a tiny little bug? But Mr. Winegard did just that and with so much thought and research. I appreciated that he took me through a history lesson encompassing the entire existence of the mosquito and how it has devastated so many generations. Not just close generations to me but going back to pre-Columbus days, decades, and eras. In this current year, 2020, of pandemics, deadly tornadoes, fires (Australian Bushfires) and earthquakes, murder-hornets, deadly du Who knew you could write so much about a tiny little bug? But Mr. Winegard did just that and with so much thought and research. I appreciated that he took me through a history lesson encompassing the entire existence of the mosquito and how it has devastated so many generations. Not just close generations to me but going back to pre-Columbus days, decades, and eras. In this current year, 2020, of pandemics, deadly tornadoes, fires (Australian Bushfires) and earthquakes, murder-hornets, deadly dust storms, upcoming hurricane season predicted to be one of the worst, riots and destruction of historic monuments, impeachment trial, postponements of the Olympics, closing of schools and businesses; the information he gave on the Crispr virus and that it could be humanity's next virus killer, seriously just makes me want to stay home even more. This year is crap! While Mr. Winegard hopes we now have admiration instead of disgust for the mosquito based on his writing, I do believe I am still in utter hatred of the damn bug.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wanda Ruzanski-Dietrich

    This book is a very good overview of the mosquito's effect on history, with the warning that it is written for the general reader (me) as opposed to anyone working on the problems of vector-borne diseases, or the like. Winegard starts with the mosquito how she delivers her toxic load into her victim. Her proboscis has six different parts. Who knew? He then goes on to explore sickle cell anemia and how it changed the population patterns of Africa. After that, he takes an overview of notable (mostl This book is a very good overview of the mosquito's effect on history, with the warning that it is written for the general reader (me) as opposed to anyone working on the problems of vector-borne diseases, or the like. Winegard starts with the mosquito how she delivers her toxic load into her victim. Her proboscis has six different parts. Who knew? He then goes on to explore sickle cell anemia and how it changed the population patterns of Africa. After that, he takes an overview of notable (mostly European and American) conflicts and how mosquitoes and (mostly) malaria shaped the outcomes of those events. It ends with the hope that mosquitoes can be rendered extinct using CRISPR technology. I found the book interesting and informative. I suggest reading the footnotes for nifty little pieces of information that the author couldn't quite shoehorn into the text. That said, I do wonder how the book would have read if it were written by someone from South or Central America or Africa because it does have a decided North American/European bias. I has an extensive bibliography. The index is quite good, with the Kindle edition having live links to the general area of the target (the head of the page in the print edition).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    To me, the most effective part of the book is the beginning, which explains why the mosquito is the deadliest animal on earth and how it became responsible for nearly half the deaths on Earth for much of human history. The rest of the book is sort of a timeline, with information on malaria, yellow fever, and "bonebreak fever" (dengue) during the Roman Empire, the triangular trade, the U.S. Civil War, and so on. Those chapters are all good, but they aren't as compelling as the first part. There a To me, the most effective part of the book is the beginning, which explains why the mosquito is the deadliest animal on earth and how it became responsible for nearly half the deaths on Earth for much of human history. The rest of the book is sort of a timeline, with information on malaria, yellow fever, and "bonebreak fever" (dengue) during the Roman Empire, the triangular trade, the U.S. Civil War, and so on. Those chapters are all good, but they aren't as compelling as the first part. There are a lot more pop culture references than I was expecting—Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and so on. Also, if you vomit up what looks like coffee grounds, you are in very bad shape and should seek medical treatment immediately.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.