A Wise, Delightful, and Wrongfully D.O.A. Book – Elizabeth Pisani’s The Wisdom of Whores by Daniel N. White

by Daniel N. White
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Nov. 12, 2009

E.P. was a US expat kid who lived all over the world growing up and therefore naturally enough I guess wound up getting a superlatively useless liberal arts degree in Classical Chinese* and becoming a reporter for Reuters across Asia. She then jumped ship to epidemiology, getting a PHd in same in London and then working in Asia for the UN or for UN-affiliated NGO’s on AIDS transmission reduction programs for another decade or so. The book is her first-person account of her days in the trenches in the worldwide war against AIDS, and it is written in her distinct and delightful own voice. Her writing is in parts a model of skillful expository prose explaining the technical scientific issues of epidemiology and AIDS biology to the lay reader. It is also in parts a surprisingly informative sociological study of sexual practices in several Asian countries, first and foremost Indonesia. Another part is sociology of drug useage–sex and drugs being the two leading vectors for AIDS transmission–which gets frank and honest treatment, too. Other parts are first-rate explanatory reportage of the political issues in both the first and third world’s responses to the AIDS epidemic. And then there’s the autobiographical parts which are by turns wise, funny, brave, relentlessly honest, and full of human understanding and human decency.

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