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Bee Bloeser, Author, Speaker, Storyteller

SEE WHAT THE DEPUTY EDITOR OF FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, has to say:

“At a time when vaccines are front page news and a deadly pandemic is raging across the globe, Bee Bloeser’s memoir of her family’s role in [smallpox eradication] makes for riveting reading. . .both a captivating family history and a reminder of how public health campaigns are still inextricably intertwined with politics. . . .[it] illustrates how inoculating vulnerable people against a killer virus can be a tool of soft power that builds diplomatic goodwill in the darkest of times. . .”

THE ECONOMIST‘s Midwest Correspondent and former Bureau Chief Johannesburg and Delhi, Adam Roberts, says:

“Bloeser has written a closely observed and revealing memoir. . .affectionate detail. . . historically important, not least in the light of new, urgent, global efforts to deliver vaccinations to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. . .most remarkable when it recounts living in tropical, isolated and unfortunate Equatorial Guinea. . .This is a sympathetic, vividly told and useful record of an unusually sombre moment in West African history. . . .”

AND PULITZER PRIZE-NOMINATED AUTHOR, PAMELA ALEXANDER, has this to say:

Bloeser’s story reads like a political thriller, women’s history and African adventure rolled into one. An alert witness to a breakthrough in world health, she brings insight and humor to [the dark tale] that unfolds around her. Riveting.

 

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A different virus. A different pandemic. And in a climate of sociopolitical upheaval. We’re first in a country that was always in the news and then in one that should have been.

The first, Nigeria. If others hadn’t cared about Africans killing Africans, they did care about starving Biafran babies. Images sped round the globe. The second, Equatorial Guinea. Behind the tropical paradise facade, the newly-independent country was in the vise of a bloodthirsty dictator. The world didn’t even know the place existed.

I kept cryptic notes and hid them in the sock drawer. I now reveal a story parts of which were previously spirited to the outside world only by diplomatic pouch.

Through the ages, diseases have often influenced power and politics. Even as the author learns that world powers use disease fighters to do the same–the soft power angle–she knows that global communication and cooperation defeated the killer virus.

Historical memoir VACCINES & BAYONETS: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War released April 22, 2021.

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