Praise for Tinderbox

  • "An essential and engrossing read...Extensively researched, eminently readable and accessible...a notable and invaluable addition."

    —Booklist, Starred Review
  • “Reads like a detective novel. The authors have clearly done important research and have brought together amazing stories, bits of history, and scientific perspectives.“

    —The New Yorker
  • "A strong warning to those who would disregard the cultural specificities of those one is trying to serve"

    —New York Times, Editors' Choice
  • "Absorbing interdisciplinary study...this timely exposé advocates practical solutions to a seemingly intractable problem."

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
  • "...laced with science - virology, epidemiology, the mechanics of circumcision - but the writing remains crisp and clear. The story is full of real, live people that help the reader understand African cultures, colonialism and the devastating effects of disease."

    —Concord Monitor
  • "A fascinating chronicle of how human foibles led to missed opportunities to control the pandemic and how unintended outcomes probably raised the death and disease toll substantially."

    —Health Affairs
  • "Timberg and Halperin may ruffle feathers with some of their unorthodox views, but they present a forceful case with which future students of HIV and AIDS will have to reckon."

  • "A compelling account of the ravages of the AIDS epidemic and its heroes, villains, and missed opportunities. General readers, social scientists, and public health experts will find much to ponder."

    —Library Journal
  • “Tinderbox will help readers understand why...the period ahead is so critical in fighting the epidemic. Millions of lives depend on the effort."

    —Washington Post
  • "This engrossing interdisciplinary study sets out to identify why AIDS emerged when it did, why Africans were so disproportionately affected and why some countries have succeeded in reducing infection rates while others have not."

    —New York Times, Paperback Row
  • "...highlights how the bureaucrat-driven activities of international organisations managed to miss African successes"

    —The Lancet
  • "A fascinating account"

    —United Nations news service (Plus News)
  • "A remarkable volume. With rare clarity, Tinderbox lays bare the origins of the AIDS virus, and then reveals the often hapless and delinquent responses of the international community. It's a fascinating read: relentlessly honest, sometimes scathing, alway principled."

    —Stephen Lewis, Founder/Director of AIDS-Free World, Former UN Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa
  • “The sometimes glorious, often tragic constellation of science, politics, and personalities in the fight against AIDS comes to life in the masterful storytelling of an energetic journalist and a passionate scientist.”

    —Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver
  • “Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On was the first—and for decades the best—book on AIDS. Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin’s Tinderbox is every bit as good, revealing the same denial, the same story of politics trumping science, and the same tragedy. This time, it is about the whole world, not just San Francisco. Read it!”
    —Malcolm Potts, M.D., author of The AIDS Reader and Ever Since Adam and Eve
  •  “An excellent read. Tinderbox brilliantly outlines the successes, failures, and missed opportunities in the battle of HIV prevention over the last thirty years.”
    —Elly Katabira, M.D., president, International AIDS Society
  • “Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin have written a searing book about the AIDS epidemic. Tinderbox is an indictment of Western ineptitude and meddling and lost opportunities to prevent millions of infections and deaths. But it also contains valuable prescriptions for making change—and it’s an important read for anyone who cares about Africa.”
    —Stephanie Nolen, author of 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa
  • “Timberg and Halperin have been challenging conventional wisdom (and behavior change skeptics like me) for years. Their book is entertaining, thought-provoking, human, and in the end, hopeful for a continent that craves some answers after two decades of HIV prevention failures.”

    —Francois Venter, M.D., president, Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
  • “Highly readable and informative, highlighting the importance of prioritizing HIV prevention in subsaharan Africa. Their analyses trace the social and cultural origins of the HIV epidemic and provide convincing arguments on population-wide measures needed to slow the spread.”


    —James Curran, Dean, Rollins school of Public Health, Emory University
  • “Tinderbox is an unusually compelling and informative account of how the AIDS epidemic has affected the world, particularly the peoples of Africa. In a compassionate and engaging manner, Timberg and Halperin bring to life the story from its beginnings to the most recent evidence on how to effectively prevent further tragedy.”

    —Jay Levy, M.D., director, Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research, University of California, San Francisco

About the Authors

  • Craig Timberg

    is the former Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Post. from his position, he visited twenty-three African nations and penned dozens of major stories about AIDS. He is now The Washington Post’s deputy national security editor.

  • Daniel Halperin, PH.D.,

    is an epidemiologist and medical anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and has taught at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. He was a top technical adviser in the U.S. government’s PEPFAR program to combat AIDS.

Published by
The Penguin Press