My book The Last Days of Smallpox is now available for you to buy in paperback & Kindle format:
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The last naturally occurring case of smallpox was diagnosed in Ali Maow Maalin, a hospital cook in the picturesque seaport of Merca, Somalia, on 26 October 1977.
But in August 1978, the smallpox virus crept like a thief in the night from a laboratory in Birmingham to re-inhabit human flesh and blood. What happened next has all the hallmarks of a Greek drama or Shakespearean tragedy, with the shocking but mysterious appearance of a dreaded disease in the heart of England; a frantic effort to save a city—and the world—from disaster; a tragic heroine, a photographer, who suffered a hideous fate; and a tragic hero, a virology professor, driven to despair to mortifying despair, treated as a scapegoat during an official enquiry, but later exonerated in a court of law.
Here, I give a full account of the 1978 Birmingham smallpox outbreak and the ensuing court case, drawn from records of the time and the reminiscences of those who lived through it.
"A complete and rational account… sets the record straight, provides closure" Keith Dumbell, University of Cape Town
"A riveting account of the mystery, the politics and the legal implications of the Birmingham event." Stanley Falkow, University of Stanford
"Thoroughly engrossing—a high-quality detective story, with a nice human touch" Robin May, University of Birmingham
"A book full of humanity… and of anger at the smallpox virus and the misery it caused." Soad Tabaqchali, emeritus professor, St Bartholomew’s Hospital
"An engaging book that weaves the scientific, social, political and historical context into a multi-layered narrative." Conall McCaughey, Queens University Belfast
"The biographical material on the protagonists is superb. It makes it come alive. Janet Parker is not just a name, a Madonna to be sacrificed, but a real person." Brian Escott-Cox QC