12 April 2014: Plague Fighter

A legacy that will continue to make a real difference to lives all over the world

Wu Lien-Teh_CoverWe are happy to present the latest addition to our ‘Reprints’ catalogue – Plague Fighter: The Autobiography of a Modern Chinese Physician. First published in 1959, it is now available again for your reading pleasure. To order or purchase the book, please visit our website or drop by our bookstore. Thank you!

The pages of history are scattered with the names of people who contributed in many ways to benefit mankind. Fewer and further between were those who truly altered the course of history with their achievements.  Dr. Wu Lien-teh, also known as the ‘plague fighter’, was one such person. Born in Penang and educated at the Penang Free School and Cambridge, UK, Dr. Wu famously fought the pneumonic plague in Manchuria in the early 20th century. This tragic event threatened the very well-being of China, eventually claiming some 60,000 lives. For a while, the task and responsibility of conquering this dreaded disease seemed insurmountable; the odds of success were stacked against him. As brilliant a scientist as he was, Dr. Wu was still left to fight the unknown — every second counted as the mysterious disease caused death in a matter of days. Another daunting challenge he had to face was the defeatist attitude of the masses, fueled by ignorance and a lack of education. His victory in finally eliminating the Manchurian Plague (as it was called)  earned him the the accolade of Plague Fighter of China.

wu-2Not only was Dr. Wu a gifted medical scientist, but he was also an adept scribe — Plague Fighter, the Autobiography of a Modern Chinese Physician is the self-penned, vivid account of his personal experiences with the Black Death invasion of Northern Manchuria in the winter of 1910-11. Aside from medicine, Dr. Wu was also a vocal campaigner against the dangers of opium, eventually founding and heading the Penang Anti-Opium Association. His efforts to encourage and inculcate literacy also lead to the setting-up of the historic Ipoh Library.  An obituary for Dr. Wu in The Times of London read “By his death the world of medicine has lost a heroic and almost legendary figure … one to whom it is far more indebted than it knows.” A truly fitting epitaph for the man who beat the Black Death and who laid the foundation of modern medical service in China.