Book review: Lifeblood


​Here’s a book review written by Mark Anderson, NE Iowa Synod. Thanks, Mark!

Perry, Alex.  Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time. New York: Public Affairs, 2011.

Alex Perry is a journalist who shadowed philanthropist Ray Chambers, a Wall Street wizard who accumulated a vast fortune and then sought the most effective way to give it away. Chambers made his fortune as the former Chairman of Wesray Capital Corporation, a private equity holding company.  As Chambers studied global poverty he discovered that Malaria is often the cause of sickness, which lowers family income as well as national productivity including agricultural production.  Worse yet, while malaria breeds poverty, poverty boosts malaria (p.17).   Chambers invested a large portion of his own resources in the fight against malaria and then sought to leverage his contribution by inviting his financial peers to also contribute and by inviting his close friend, President Bush, to take up the cause.  There is even a mention of his meeting with “leaders of a Lutheran denomination in the US that maintained a wide missionary network on the continent and had also decided to raise funds for malaria” (p.90).  Through his efforts Chambers could clearly demonstrate that the use of nets, pesticide, and medication could dramatically reduce the instances of malaria and turn devastated communities into vibrant economic centers.  For this Chambers was named the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria.

The book is very affirming of the possibility of eradicating malaria from the globe in the next few years.  The author, Alex Perry, also makes a strong case for the involvement of big business in the fight against malaria as this disease cuts deep into corporate profits.  However, Perry is very critical NGO Aid groups and charities as being too in efficient and not entrepreneurial enough.  His admiration for the business community gives him amnesia on the history of corporate greed and its effects on the developing nations.  He is also blind to the inefficiencies and stagnation of even the most capitalistic of enterprises.  In my opinion, this would have been a much more useful book had Perry spent more time and malaria and less time with a political axe to grind.

Pastor Mark A. Anderson,
Assistant to the Bishop
Northeastern Iowa Synod