How to Change the World, One Dead Mosquito at a Time

September 2011 9781849041577 208pp


One day in 2006, the rich, well connected but very private philanthropist, Ray Chambers, flicked through the holiday snaps of his friend, the development economist Jeffrey Sachs, and remarked on the placid beauty of a group of sleeping Malawian children. ‘They’re not sleeping,’ Sachs told a shocked Chambers. ‘They’re in malarial comas.’ A few days later, they were all dead.

So began Chambers’ mission to eradicate a disease that has haunted mankind since before medicine began, still infects half a billion people a year, and kills a million of them. The campaign draws in presidents, celebrities, scientists and enormous funding and has become a stunning success, saving millions of lives and propelling Africa towards prosperity. By replacing traditional ideas of assistance with business acumen and hustle, Chambers has upturned the whole notion of aid, forging a new path not just for the developing world but for global business, religion and even celebrity.

As he follows three years of the campaign, award-winning journalist Alex Perry takes the reader across Africa, from a terrifying visit to a Ugandan town that is the most malarial on earth to a star-studded World Cup concert, encountering scientists, fugitive guerrillas, presidents, religious leaders and icons of the global aid industry. In Lifeblood, he weaves together science and history with on-the-ground reporting and a riveting exposé of aid as he documents this race against time.  The result is a thrilling and all-too-rare tale of humanitarian triumph that has profound implications for how to build a better world.


‘This little gem of a book … has an important story to tell, and Perry tells it with precision and gusto. As dramatic as anything you will read in fiction.’ — The New York Times

‘Alex Perry has written a hugely compelling account of one of the epic public health battles of our time. Lifeblood is brightly illuminated by startling details from the author’s research. It is also refreshingly free of the clichés that mar so much writing by Europeans about Africa.’ — Alec Russell, Comment and Analysis Editor of the Financial Times.

‘Alex Perry shows a reporter’s eye and a writer’s art to chart a revolution not just in the fight against malaria but in the global provision of aid. Anybody interested in how the world can realistically be made a better place should read this fantastic book.’ — Tim Butcher, author of Chasing the Devil: On Foot Through Africa’s Killing Fields

‘Lifeblood is a sweeping epic of a book. With graphic and chilling detail, Alex Perry shows us both the horrors of this lethal disease and that it can be beaten. This is imperative reading for anyone involved in health or international development.’ — Humphrey Hawksley, BBC Foreign Correspondent

‘With this book, Alex Perry confirms his reputation as one of the finest journalists working in Africa today. Lifeblood is intrepid, engaging, incisive, and immensely readable.’ — Mark Gevisser, author of A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream

‘A fascinating account of that lamentably rare phenomenon – a successful aid programme.’ — Peter Godwin, author of The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe

‘A mix of science, history and research, this is a fascinating take on a disease that kills a million people a year.’ — Nature

‘Compelling, highly readable’ — The National

‘The content of this small book is summed up in its subtitle. It chronicles a fascinating journey through Africa, distributing insecticide-impregnated bed nets to help in teh fight against malaria. The journalist, Alex Perry, Time magazine’s Africa bureau chief, brings the story to life with his enthusiasm. […] an easily read insight into the difficulties, the opportunities and the hopes of global disease control. It is highly recommended.’ –– The Bulletin of the Royal College of Pathologists


Alex Perry is the Africa Bureau Chief for Time magazine. He has worked as a correspondent for Time since 2001, covering Africa, the Middle East and Asia from postings in Hong Kong, New Delhi and Cape Town. He has won numerous awards for his journalism. His first book, Falling Off The Edge: Globalization, World Peace and Other Lies, was published in 2009 by Bloomsbury.

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