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July 14, 2014
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v2.1 Reference

Cold War, Deadly Fevers

Malaria Eradication in Mexico, 1955–1975

In the mid-1950s, with planning and funding from the United States, Mexico embarked on an ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria, which was widespread and persistent. This new history explores the politics of that campaign.

Marcos Cueto describes the international basis of the program, its national organization in Mexico, its local implementation by health practitioners and workers, and its reception among the population. Drawing on archives in the United States, Mexico, and Switzerland, he highlights the militant Cold War rhetoric of the founders and analyzes the mixed motives of participants at all levels. Following the story through the dwindling campaign in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cueto raises questions relevant to today’s international health campaigns against malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis.

About the Author

Marcos Cueto is a professor in the department of sociomedical sciences, School of Public Health, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima. A historian with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, he has specialized in the history of public health in Latin America, with work on HIV/AIDS, malaria, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2004–2005.


"Without doubt, Cold War, Deadly Fevers is an important contribution to the expanding field of international health history."

- Diego Armus - Isis

"This history of malaria eradication in Mexico reveals that there is no magic bullet. Rather, there is a need for 'holistic, persistent, flexible approaches' to fashion popular support for prevention programs and an integrated public health perspective 'that entails overcoming the culture of survival.' This thoroughly researched and clearly written book shines a light in the gloom."

"This is a valuable book for all public health professionals. Highly recommended."

"A well-crafted and complex study that offers important lessons on the history of international health and foreign aid. One of the greatest strengths of this impressive work, however, is Cueto's insight into the motivations and attitudes of the people who created the program, those who implemented it, and those who were deemed its beneficiaries."

- Jonathan D. Ablard - Hispanic American Historical Review

"Dr. Cueto's superbly well-informed exploration of malaria not only as a disease but as a social economic, and human problem makes his book required reading."

- Filiberto Malagón - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine

"Raises questions highly relevant to today's international health campaigns to eradicate malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis... Well researched, conceptualized and executed. The work is a welcome and significant contribution to the field of the history of public health as well as a critical guide for public health practitioners who seek more beneficial global health paradigms."

- Alexandra Puerto - Contra Corriente

"Should be compulsory reading for public health officials."

- Thomes P. Weber - British Journal for the History ofScience

"This new work is a model of its kind."

- Christopher Abel - Journal of Latin American Studies

"Cueto's book is significant in that it pushes scholars in several disciplines to acknowledge the power that health and disease have in reformulating our understanding of threats during the Cold War, and, notably, in our times."

- Gabriela Soto Laveaga - Review of Policy Research

"As one might expect from a scholar of the standing of Marcos Cueto, this book is a richly documented work, presenting a solid argument and well-constructed ideas. It explores an interesting though neglected and at times misunderstood period in Mexican history, that of the Cold War."

- Natalia Priego - Bulletin of Latin American Research

"Cueto, a distinguished and highly respected historian of medicine and public health, frames his concise, yet detailed, history of malaria eradication programmes in Mexico within a larger argument about the overall goals of, and approaches to, public health in the developing world, both past and present."

- Julia Rodriguez - Global Public Health

"More than just a case study of the successes and failures of malaria eradication in Mexico, Cold War, Deadly Fevers suggests what might be done to improve public health in developing nations."

- Michael R. Hall - Journal of Third World Studies

"Anyone with an interest in international development, especially in Latin America, and a belief that history holds important lessons for building sustainable efforts in international development, should read it. Cueto excels in analyzing historical processes at multiple scales, from the global, to the national, to the local."

- Eric D. Carter - Geographical Review

"A meticulously researched, succinct, and artfully crafted narrative about malaria eradication in Mexico during the Cold War."

- Heather L. McCrea - Journal of Historical Geography

"An excellent case study of the mid-twentieth-century multilateral campaign in Mexico to eradicate malaria. It skillfully places the Mexican effort in the context of international political history and health policy. It is essential reading for public health professionals and anyone interested in Mexican history, the history of medicine, or U.S. foreign policy."

- Ann Zulawski - Bulletin of the History of Medicine


"This work is very important. It is the first scholarly and book-length study of malaria eradication in Latin America that shows how campaigns actually played out on the ground and how they were framed by Cold War ideologies and imperatives."

- Alexandra Stern, Center for the History of Medicine, and Medical School, University of Michigan
Woodrow Wilson Center Press / Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421415567 : cold-war-deadly-fevers-cueto
Paperback / softback
288 Pages
$32.00 USD

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