New review: The Wisdom of Whores

Elizabeth Pisani’s book breaks down the facts on HIV/AIDS, but loses points for offensive language and playing too cool to care, says Charlotte Cooper

Many of my problems with things in life stem from an emphasis on aesthetics while skimping on content. Concentration on the outside of the package has become so strong it often no longer resembles what’s wrapped inside. Elizabeth Pisani’s book, The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of Aids comes dangerously close to this. The title is catchy, but I think the publishers may have reached a little too hard to find a kooky take on epidemiology in their search for a saleable title.

Elizabeth Pisani is an epidemiologist, a job she came to after what seems to be a bohemian life of writing and following a young man from free house to free house across the world.

She provides ample background and anecdotes alongside the theory and knowledge to describe the nuances of the HIV/Aids business in a loose and amiable style. Personally, I struggled with the relaxed tone and tell-all nature of the writing, though it has its purpose.

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