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The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,818 ratings  ·  366 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Allen Lane
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,818 ratings  ·  366 reviews


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Raughley Nuzzi
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nfr-2020
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 ...more
Nicole von Buelow
Aug 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
More like a long book about military history with malaria thrown in
Keen
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
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Steve
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
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Kat
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
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
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Charles
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
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Scott Martin
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(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 ...more
Jennifer M.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Barry
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Zulugoat
Oct 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
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
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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.
Melanie Ullrich
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Super interesting book when it wasn't an in depth world history lesson...which was most of it unfortunately.
Porter Broyles
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: genre-ecclectic
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
...more
Jill Elizabeth
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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' ...more
Nemo Nemo
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
J.L. Slipak
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jenny Fleming
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS MY FAVORITE BOOK I’VE READ ALL YEAR!
Ben
Aug 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
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
...more
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
...more
Laura Jean
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, non-fiction, 2020
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.
Eriche
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Isamar Cortes
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amber Spencer
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Jeimy
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dense but fascinating!
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 ...more
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
...more
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 ...more
Sara
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
A better name for this might have been "Malaria & Militias" since it's more about how mosquito-borne illnesses have impacted wars and less about the mosquito itself. ...more
Isabelle Bradbury
Aug 21, 2020 rated it liked it
~2.5 stars. This is a very well written book and I can tell it was deeply researched—but only read it if you care about military history more than mosquitoes. There’s no chance I would have finished this if it wasn’t via audiobook.
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“Given that Americans currently consume 25% of the world’s coffee, Starbucks ought to raise a toasting glass to the tiny mosquito. “Malaria even explains how the nation of the 1773 Boston Tea Party,” affirms Alex Perry in Lifeblood, “became today’s land of the latte.” 0 likes
“Blood type O seems to be the vintage of choice over types A and B or their blend. People with blood type O get bitten twice as often as those with type A, with type B falling somewhere in between.” 0 likes
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