Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver.
Although vaccines have saved many thousands of lives, their history is fraught with controversy. Allen, a journalist, tells the story from the turn of the 20th century and the development of the smallpox vaccine. He describes the wartime governmental campaigns to protect children against the ravages of typhoid fever, diphtheria, and yellow fever and explains the legendary rivalry between Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin and their respective polio vaccines. Allen documents the trial-and-error effort that created the MMR--for measles, mumps, rubella--vaccine during the mid 20th century. Allen also looks at the politics surrounding vaccination programs, such as the rising costs of vaccines, the resurgence of childhood diseases such as measles, the potential link between vaccines and autism, and the reluctance of some parents to have their children vaccinated. The author accuses the Bush administration of hyping the potential of smallpox as a terrorist weapon. Norton, 2007, 523 p., b&w plates, hardcover, $27.95.