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Fiametta Rocco explores the history of the ravages of malaria, of the heroism and tragedy of those who have attempted to find cures and the manner in which the discovery of quinine opened the door of the tropics to western imperial adventure., Malaria comes from the Italian word "Mal'aria" or bad air. For centuries malaria killed millions - Alexander the Great was one of its better-known victims - and its debilitating effects have been linked to the demise of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The traditional remedies of bloodletting killed off many who may have been spared by the fevers. In 1735 Joseph de Jussieu set out for Latin America as the first non-Spanish expedition to be allowed to enter the continent. The Peruvian bark or Jesuit's powder had been known in Europe since 1644 but met with violent opposition from the medical establishment and the public. So feared were papists in general and Jesuits in particular that throughout Protestant Europe there were demonstrations against the bark, and the talk was of Papist plots to poison. This changed when Charles II was cured by the bark and then the race was on to obtain seeds of the precious trees. Fiametta Rocco - who herself has had malaria - explores the history of the ravages of the disease, of the heroism and tragedy of those who have attempted to find cures and the manner in which the discovery of quinine opened the door of the tropics to western imperial adventure., Fiammetta Rocco is the literary editor of the Economist.