The Trembling Mountain: A Personal Account of Kuru, Cannibals, and Mad Cow Disease


Robert Klitzman was 21 years old when he was invited by the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Carleton Gajdusek to conduct original research among the Stone-Age Fore group in Papua New Guinea whose ritual cannibalism had infected them with Kuru, an incurable disease akin to Mad Cow Disease. The adventure he embarked on would change his life, and provide keys to understanding Mad Cow Disease, potentially the world's next major deadly epidemic.

Battling the dense primordial rain forests penetrated by few outsiders before him, Klitzman tracked down Fore patients and family members, overcoming their suspicions and superstitions so that he could document the progress and patterns of Kuru. Confronting cultural gaps and his own limitations, he came away with a deeper understanding of human nature. His work with the Fore trained the future doctor in ways that would far surpass medical school.

At once a gripping medical mystery, an exotic travelogue, and a stirring coming-of-age story, The Trembling Mountain is a powerful first-hand account of life on the frontiers of science.

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