Readers’ Comments

David Hackney, Professor of Public Affairs

Having just finished your book I wanted to tell you that it is excellent. It takes the knowledge of a scientist and the skills of journalist to produce a book that informs the reader while moving the story forward. I bought it Wednesday and by Thursday night it was finished. Only novels have compelled me to stay up until the book was finished. As a professor of public affairs, public policy, public affairs and research I am considering using your book in a couple of my classes. It could help my students understand the practical and political aspects of policy formation. It will help my research understand some of the “real world” complexities they will face. It will also bring light to a subject that is rarely on the minds of today’s undergraduates. Your books also gives me some excellent data to use in debating abstinence with some of my conservative colleagues. Congratulations and I hope your book becomes a best seller.

Pat O’Hare, honorary president of the International Harm Reduction Association

I have just read your book and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. It is beautifully written, unputdownable and incredibly informative. I learned more about epidemiology in the first few pages than I have done in 20 years of being around epidemiologists. I can’t find anything in it with which I disagree. It should be compulsory reading for anyone working in this field. Everyone else for that matter.

Susan Armstrong, AIDS mafia

Your book is just brilliant! Yes it really is a page-turner, a compulsive read, which is an extraordinary feat for a book about AIDS, and especially among those of us who are steeped in the subject and punch-drunk with all the writing and reading. What I found particuarly exciting was the fact that you have shot from the hip, always, which is challenging and stimulating, but you have pinned almost everything you say down with compelling and good quality data. Even where I was happy to find myself saying, mentally, “yes but…” (because it’s nice not to feel you are being led by the nose by a good talker!), I found you answering my queries, settling my doubts, a little further on. It’s a great book — and important, I reckon. It’s a book I wish I had written myself, and I hope it’s selling like hot cakes.

Sandeep, Bioengineer

I just finished reading the wisdom of whores; it was one of the best books i have
ever read. I am a Phd student in bioengineering and it gave me a snippet into
what it is to transfer science to policy. I think every aspiring scientist
should read it.

Matthew Reisz, Journalist, THE

I just wanted to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed your book, probably the best I’ve read this year, for its pathos and abrasive wit as well as powerful polemics and jaw-dropping details of some worlds I knew nothing about. I do hope it helps spur a more honest debate and more effective policies in the whole field of HIV/AIDS

Anokhi Kapasi, Biomed PhD

I just finished reading your book and I surprisingly had a lot of fun learning about something as serious as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I grew up in Singapore and have traveled around the SE Asian area, many places that you discussed in your book. It was a huge wake-up call to re-visit that area through the eyes of an epidemiologist – the way jumping into cold water can be both shocking and refreshing…

Damian Facciolo

Just finished reading your book. It really was fantastic! I read it in a few
sittings; it was compelling, entertaining, thought-provoking. And from my
perspective, a very real and accurate account of how things are here in the
AIDS industry and on Planet Epidemiology.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom (and the wisdom of whores) with readers.

Elisabeth Wennevold, Norway

I just finished “The Wisdom of Whores” five minutes ago. Applause to you – for content and style – from a Norwegian reader! The book entered my field of vison by coincidence, I’m seriously glad I decided to order it, and will definitely recommend it to friends (or strangers) whenever an opportunity arises.

Romey McPherson, USA

I opened The Wisdom of Whores up on Saturday morning and finished the last page early this morning. It dominated our Memorial Weekend, and I couldn’t put it down. Tour de force! You are intrepid in your unflinching search for knowledge and truth, and have the gift of making unpalatable facts fascinating to read. I would not be surprised if The Wisdom of Whores moves from category Hard Cover
to category Best Seller over the next few months.

Jill Bausch, USA

The book is a fantastically worthy achievement. Keep talking like this. We all have to, and it will someday make monumental change we are all screaming/dying (no joke) to see. I am using your book as one of the texts for my grad school int’l development class at the University of Denver this autumn. Congratulations.

Alison Marshall, UK Unicef committee

Your book is going round the office here like wildfire – congratulations on a fantastically interesting and readable book (I can’t put it down)!

Sandro Colombo, ex-UN

I read your book and I really enjoyed it. Even more since I am a former epidemiologist and ex-UN. You did a good job in demystifying a lot of non-sense and destroying myths. Congratulations!

Graham Greene, UK

I’m a 60 year old white middle class Englishman who’s just finished reading TWOW which I found funny, informative, desperately sad in parts but most of all very neccessary.

I got the book because I read a review in ‘The Independent’ and I wanted to write and say that I thought Jeremy Laurance was rude, patronising but most of all wrong – he just didn’t seem to get the point and in my view the ‘objections’ he raises in the last 3 paragraphs of his review seem to
represent a typical medical establishment orthodoxy which in itself provides a huge contribution to the lack of AIDS prevention and treatment. I thought your book a breath of fresh air – but then again what do I know – after all I ain’t part of the medical profession am I ?

Will Rafey, high school senior

It’s glaringly obvious that you know more about the HIV/AIDS pandemic than anyone who’s ever written anything I’ve ever read, and I’ve cut hundreds of pages of debate evidence for this year. From the extensive reviews your book has received from a vast number of different publications (including the Economist, my favorite), I think that your book will probably change the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially since the storm of publicity around your book is occurring just as PEPFAR is blocked in the Senate. Of course, you probably didn’t need to hear it from a high school senior…

Barry Long, Singapore

Chanced upon your book during my regular trip to the book store. Thank you for giving a voice to the groups that will remain unheard most of the time in the mainstream media, and pursuing stories that are deemed too testy for the public consumption. There is no reality that the public can reasonably argue it must be shielded from. Definitely not this.

Katie, commenting at the Daily Bedpost

I just read this book and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to have a comprehensive view of the HIV crisis. It’s extremely readable, not dry and she makes you love the the people she meets along her journey.

William Kelly, Indonesia

I saw your interview on HardTalk and then immediately wanted to buy the book. Which I did. It’s (i) very readable (ii) humourous (iii) relevant. I think I finished your book in 3 days, in the jams to and from work here. Thanks for a great book!!!

Elbereth Wentzel

I bought your book on Thursday while waiting to board a plane in Edinburgh. Compulsive reader that I am, I am sure to finish reading it before I fly back from N.I later today! Congrats on a very readable and interesting book! After working for a NGO in South Africa that deals with HIV prevention and
treatment (Mindset Network), I completed a MPhil in Educational Research at Cambridge last year – and intend to recommend your book to my former class mates and lecturers, as well as friends at work! I am also trying to break into the social research field after working predominantly in fundraising (including being exposed to USAID and their restrictions on what we were allowed to spend
their money!) I thus found your chapters on fieldwork and donors extremely interesting.

William Salmond, Uganda

Thanks for your book – just finished reading. You are funny and yes I am also repeating myself and will move on. Prevention is everything, you are so right. This sex thing you talk about is raising its ugly head again here in the Pearl and rate of new infections is rising.

Sarah Jayne Edwards, Cleverknickers

I am currently reading your book having bought it 2 days ago and am already half way through. Im from the UK but have lived in Asia for 6 years. Thank you for such a well researched, informative and well written book!

Student of Development Studies at Princeton University

“Quite possibly the most refreshing piece I’ve read after a year of development studies at this school.”

Sinead Worrall, Wellcome Trust

“I’ve enjoyed the journey this book has taken me on; I’ve laughed, felt shock and despair, anger and disbelief in the space of a page.”

Warren Feek, Director of The Communication Initiative, former UNICEF

My partner brought me your book and I really looked forward to readng it having
been involved in a number of ways in HIV/AIDS communication action over many
years and being very critical of the global strategy.
Unfortunately I put the book down after the first 30 or so pages. In my opinion
and experience you got so much wrong about the creation and beginnings of UNAIDS
[in which I was involved for 18 months as one of two UNICEF point people for
those negotiations] that I was left feeling I could not read the rest of the
book accepting what you wrote in good faith.

Jon Cohen, author of Shots in the Dark

Elizabeth Pisani combines brains, passion and a welcome dose of irreverence and mirth to explain the myriad ways HIV moves through different populations and how best to slow its spread. A lapsed
journalist who earned a PhD in epidemiology, Pisani powerfully connects frightening statistics to the real life stories of a wonderful cast of insightful sex workers, smack addicts, transgenders and other outcasts who are especially vulnerable to the AIDS virus.

She’s blunt, bold, and relentlessly honest, even about the limitations of her own efforts, which make her prescriptions for improving prevention efforts all the more convincing.

Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics

“It’s rare to find a great public policy book that also happens to be a page turner–but the Wisdom of Whores pulls it off. This is a must-read for epidemiologists and a great read for everyone else.”