Dr. Fred Lowe Soper (1893-1977) built a long and distinguished career in the field of international public health administration. He served with the Rockefeller Foundation in South America for twenty-three years (1920-1942), chiefly in Brazil where he led the fight against yellow fever. Soper also played a key role in discovering and publicizing from 1932 to 1938 the so-called “jungle yellow fever,” a version that contrasts sharply with the traditional “urban” variety in that it is not spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, infects animals (monkeys) as well as humans, and attacks isolated rural communities. One of Soper’s greatest achievements from 1939 to 1942 was the eradication from northeastern Brazil of the extremely dangerous Anopheles gambiae mosquito, an import from Africa that spreads malaria. Dr. Soper crowned his memorable career by serving as Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau from 1947 to 1959.
Dr. Soper’s memoirs are a useful source for the growth of international health agencies, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the modern history of yellow fever. The book might have marginal value for students of Brazilian history for the period from 1920 to 1942. Unfortunately the lack of an index and a bibliography will limit the usefulness of the volume for scholars.