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The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen Paperback – Illustrated, 27 August 2019

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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"[A] magisterial account... Anderson's compelling study captures the texture of twentieth-century medical fieldwork and provides insight into the social dynamics and ethical realities of globalized science and medicine. The Collector of Lost Souls persuades us that these things really happened and shows us why they matter."


"A strikingly original and exciting work, imaginatively conceived, meticulously researched, and powerfully argued. It deserves to be widely read."

--Social History of Medicine

"An admirably readable book that weaves together bio-prospecting, cannibalism, colonialism, and globalization and remarkably manages to put the complexity of human relationships at the very center of the story. Especially valuable to the field for what it demonstrates about the possibility of writing a compelling narrative about postcolonial and postmodern complexity in a way that is both straightforward and engaging. It should be read as a venerable model for how to bring the insights of science studies to a broader audience."

--Pauline Kusiak "East Asian Science, Technology and Society "

"An excellent, even superb, volume, which combines great scholarly vigor with a well-told story on a fascinating and important topic. A highly 'teachable' book, it will also be of interest to anyone studying the Pacific who is interested in learning more about kuru and/or the history of medicine."

--Bulletin of the Pacific Circle

"An exemplary account of the discovery of the causes of a disease... a work of great theoretical insight."

--Journal of the History of Medicine

"An outstanding book that is must reading for anyone interested in the history of medical science. It will help place in perspective the broad influence, the triumph, and the ultimate tragedy of the life of Nobel Laureate D. Carleton Gajdusek."

--Journal of Child Neurology

"Anderson has masterfully captured the complex, exotic and often extraordinary nature of this inquiry and the idiosyncrasies of a key scientist... This is a significant book."


"Anderson's book is a valuable and sometimes provocative contribution to the study of science and medicine in colonial and post-colonial contexts. He shows how the relationships between scientific researchers and their 'tribal' research subjects have changed in the past 50 years. Modern bioethics has constructed welcome limits to research activities in this regard, but these limits are often defined purely from the perspective of the western world. Anderson gives an eloquent voice to other concepts and shows that truly global bioethics still face many challenges."

--Bulletin of the World Health Organization

"Distinguished by captivating storytelling and a historiographically rigorous account of the events. Lost Souls is not only enjoyable for any interested layman, but it also provides a thoroughly researched account of a remarkable scientific adventure that spans four decades."

--Nature Neuroscience

"Essential reading for those concerned with science studies and biomedical ethics."

--Annals of Science

About the Author

For almost thirty years Warwick Anderson, medical doctor and historian of science, has been studying kuru, those who were affected by the disease, and the scientists who identified and investigated it. Based at the University of Sydney, he is the Janet Dora Hine Professor of Politics, Governance and Ethics in the Department of History. He is the author of Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines and the coauthor of Intolerant Bodies: A Short History of Autoimmunity.

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Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1421433605
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1421433608
  • Customer reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.1 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
Peter Renz
5.0 out of 5 stars Kuru: How Science Is Done
2 January 2012 - Published on
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11 people found this helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So slow and very wordy, yet fairly interesting
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DeOnte Means
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality Book
28 June 2020 - Published on
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative but also good to read
24 June 2016 - Published on
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L. Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
29 October 2016 - Published on
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