Cueto, Marcos. Cold War, Deadly Fevers: Malaria Eradication in Mexico, 1955-1975.

Author:Hall, Michael R.
Position:Book review

Cueto, Marcos. Cold War, Deadly Fevers: Malaria Eradication in Mexico, 1955-1975. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2007.

A valuable contribution to social history, Cold War, Deadly Fevers: Malaria Eradication in Mexico, 1955-1975 also posits that malaria eradication was a vehicle of American Cold War objectives. Marcos Cueto, a professor in the School of Public Health at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, contends that efforts to control malaria in the developing world "have an intricate and fascinating history that has not been fully explored" (p. 1). Cueto, therefore, consulted a plethora of primary and secondary sources in his effort to reveal fully the nature and impact of the Mexican government's malaria eradication campaign during the 1950s and 1960s. Cueto's penchant for detail and historical inquiry is manifest by copious citations, which account for almost one-third of the book's text. As such, Cueto's book should serve as the template for future studies of malaria eradication programs in Latin America.

During World War II, the U.S. Army's Office of Malaria Control in War Areas began to use dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) to combat the mosquitos that carried malaria. In 1955, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and various American assistance agencies initiated a global campaign to eradicate malaria in the Third World. Given the timing of the campaign, Cueto holds that the discussion of malaria eradication "needs to be framed by the politics and rhetoric of the first two decades of the Cold War" (p. 5). In its attempt to avoid a direct military conflict with the Soviet Union, the U.S. government "considered foreign technical aid essential to preventing communism in developing countries" (p. 6). As such, the U.S. government supported bilateral programs in the Third World designed to transfer technology that would eradicate poverty and disease. The result, U.S. policy makers argued, would highlight the superiority of the American system over the Soviet system. In essence, through public health the United States could "defeat the evil threat of communism" (p. 7).

By moving beyond the diplomatic struggles between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Cueto examines the "complex dimensions of national security concerns and their combination with altruistic motivations" (p. 7). Cueto contends that international health programs...

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