How Power, Politics, and Privilege Use Science Against the World’s Most Vulnerable

A paradigm-shifting exploration of the politics of health around the world, by an award-winning scientist

“Zaman’s optimism . . . is welcome. . . . His sense of urgency is irresistible.” —The Wall Street Journal on Muhammad H. Zaman’s The Biography of Resistance

In this groundbreaking new book, award-winning scientist Muhammad H. Zaman—an expert on how disease affects vulnerable communities—delves into the history of U.S. epidemics, from the earliest cases of syphilis, cholera, and smallpox to AIDS and the recent COVID crisis, to show how the country’s response (or lack thereof) to infectious disease in America is part of a critical, time-tested strategy in America’s toolbox of oppression of the weak, the poor, and the non-white.

In the vein of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Dorothy Roberts’s Fatal Invention, Infected is the epic story of white supremacists, compromised doctors, racist politicians, and the heroes who challenged them. Zaman shows that exclusionary immigration acts, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the development of biological weapons, the early response to the AIDS epidemic, the fake CIA vaccination campaign in Pakistan, and the xenophobic rhetoric sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic are all parts of the same deeper story—one of medical science twisted in the service of social control.

This is a story that continues today, on Native American reservations, in foreign zones occupied by the U.S. military, and on our borders, where asylum seekers are denied lifesaving medicines. Melding cutting-edge science and history, Infected presents infection as a key to understanding our recent past, present, and future.

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