image : Sonia Shah

Sonia Shah

Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author. Her writing on science, politics, and human rights has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American and elsewhere. Her work has been featured on RadioLab, Fresh Air, and TED, where her talk, "Three Reasons We Still Haven't Gotten Rid of Malaria" has been viewed by over 1,000,000 people around the world. Her 2010 book, The Fever, which was called a "tour-de-force history of malaria" (New York Times), "rollicking" (Time), and "brilliant" (Wall Street Journal) was long-listed for the Royal Society's Winton Prize. Her new book, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, is forthcoming from Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux in February 2016.Her prize-winning 2006 drug industry exposé, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients (New Press), has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a tautly argued study...a trenchant exposé...meticulously researched and packed with documentary evidence," and as "important [and] powerful" by The New England Journal of Medicine. The book, which international bestselling novelist and The Constant Gardener author John Le Carré called "an act of courage," has enjoyed wide international distribution, including French, Japanese, and Italian editions. The Library Journal named it one of the best consumer health books of 2006.Shah was born in 1969 in New York City to Indian immigrants. Growing up, she shuttled between the northeastern United States where her parents practiced medicine and Mumbai and Bangalore, India, where her extended working-class family lived, developing a life-long interest in inequality between and within societies. She holds a BA in journalism, philosophy, and neuroscience from Oberlin College, and lives with molecular ecologist Mark Bulmer and their two sons Zakir and Kush. Photo by Joyce Ravid.

The Best 5 Books on Sonia Shah

image Sonia Shah

Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire

Showcases the growing politicization of Asian American women and their emerging feminist movement. These prominent writers, artists, and activists draw on a wealth of personal experience and political analysis to address issues of immigration, work, health, domestic violence, sexuality, and
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Crude: The Story of Oil

Crude is the unexpurgated story of oil, from the circumstances of its birth millions of years ago to the spectacle of its rise as the indispensable ingredient of modern life. In addition to fueling our SUVs and illuminating our cities, crude oil and its byproducts fertilize our produce, pave our roads, and make plastic possible. "Newborn babies," observes author Sonia Shah, "slide from their mothers into petro-plastic-gloved hands, are swaddled in petro-polyester blankets, and are hurried off to be warmed by oil-burning heaters." The modern world is drenched in oil; Crude tells how it came to be. A great human drama emerges, of discovery and innovation, risk, the promise of riches, and the power of greed.
Shah infuses recent twists in the story with equal drama, through chronicles of colorful modern-day characters — from the hundreds of Nigerian women who stormed a Chevron plant to a monomaniacal scientist for whom life is the pursuit of this earthblood and its elusive secret. Shah moves masterfully between scientific, economic, political, and social analysis, capturing the many sides of the indispensable mineral that we someday may have to find a way to live without.
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Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

A thrilling glimpse into the next likely global contagion---and how to stop it.

Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have emerged or reemerged in new territory. Experts around the world are bracing for a deadly, disruptive pandemic.

In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, prizewinning journalist Sonia Shah reveals how that could happen, by drawing parallels between cholera---one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens---and the new diseases that stalk us today. As Shah traces each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey from harmless microbe to world-changing pandemic, she reports on the pathogens that have followed cholera’s footsteps---from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers emerging from China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, the slums of Port-au-Prince, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast. A true story that is both gripping and alarming, Pandemic delves deep into the convoluted science, strange politics, and the checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, offering a prelude to the future that’s impossible to ignore.

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The Body Hunters: Testings New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients

Hailed by John le Carré as "an act of courage on the part of its author" and singled out for praise by the leading medical journals in the United States and the United Kingdom, The Body Hunters uncovers the real-life story behind le Carré’s acclaimed novel The Constant Gardener and the feature film based on it.

"A trenchant exposé . . . meticulously researched and packed with documentary evidence" (Publishers Weekly), Sonia Shah’s riveting journalistic account shines a much-needed spotlight on a disturbing new global trend. Drawing on years of original research and reporting in Africa and Asia, Shah examines how the multinational pharmaceutical industry, in its quest to develop lucrative drugs, has begun exporting its clinical research trials to the developing world, where ethical oversight is minimal and desperate patients abound. As the New England Journal of Medicine notes, "it is critical that those engaged in drug development, clinical research and its oversight, research ethics, and policy know about these stories," which tell of an impossible choice being faced by many of the world’s poorest patients—be experimented upon or die for lack of medicine.
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The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years

In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause celebre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have lent their names--and opened their pocketbooks--in hopes of stopping the disease. Still, in a time when every emergent disease inspires waves of panic, why aren't we doing more to tame one of our oldest foes? And how does a pathogen that we've known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly one million of them? 

In The Fever, journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer those questions, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. Through the centuries, she finds, we've invested our hopes in a panoply of drugs and technologies, and invariably those hopes have been dashed. From the settling of the New World to the construction of the Panama Canal, through wartimes and the advances of the Industrial Revolution, Shah tracks malaria's jagged ascent and the tragedies in its wake, revealing a parasite every bit as persistent as the insects that carry it. 
With distinguished prose and original reporting from Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and elsewhere, The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.
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