The Wisdom of Whores

I came across Elizabeth Pisani‘s recent book via a TED-related post on the notoriously interesting Brainpickings. Wisdom of Whores is a book that will pretty much pull your head apart with mindblowing stats about HIV and AIDS and the insider’s knowledge about how NGO and governmental HIV and AIDS politics work with this issue around the world. The book is superbly well written given Pisani’s long-term journalist work and her passion for the ideas she’s filled her professional life with. Easily one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in my life.

I’m only half-way through it now and so far the reading has been unrepetetive, insightful and engaging. HIV prevention and AIDS topics can make really dramatic if mundane storylines – the collective narratives make us think we know all about this issue, but we really just don’t. The HIV story is spiced with money, politics, religion, sex and drugs and the interests of all the groups engaged in this affair can differ so much as to bring the best intentions to a halt. So yes, whether you want to read this book for its insights into field research in Indonesian brothels, the workings of the US AIDS support (that spends 30% of its money on abstinence programs that fail 75% of the time), or just want to read a fantastic personal account of a female journalist dealing with one of the biggest killers in human history, give it a go.

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