Dorothy H. Crawford
The Search for the Origin of HIV
University Press 2013
If you think about it, pretty much everything has a history insofar as everything exists in time. Historians, however, usually limit themselves to the history of humans and the things humans make. Occasionally, of course, they make forays into the history of animals, the environment and even the universe (see “Big History”), but these excursions are exceptions to the all-human rule.
In Virus Hunt: The Search for the Origin of HIV (Oxford UP, 2013), Dorothy H. Crawford–a biologist–breaks new historiographical ground by tracing the history of a virus, namely HIV. She is, naturally, interested in the tragic human story of HIV and AIDS. But her focus is on the virus itself. Where and when, she asks, was HIV born? In what populations did it live before it jumped to humans? And, most importantly, where and when did it jump to humans? Using an array of sophisticated tools, a group of biologists-cum-detectives were able to give credible answers to these historical questions. Crawford tells their story.