'An incredible story told by a great storyteller'

Polio: a nightmare that could drop into any home – no matter how clean and well protected – and paralyse or kill a healthy child. Until the early 20th century, polio was a rare medical curiosity; then, in the summer of 1916, New York was hit by the first of the annual epidemics that eventually swept across entire countries. During the 1950s, public surveys revealed that polio terrified Americans almost as much as the atom bomb.


This is a compelling story of heroes and villains, that begins in Ancient Egypt and brings in a US President, the iron lung, two brilliant scientists who hated each others’ guts, and a cut-throat race to develop an effective polio vaccine.  Thanks to a 30-year world-wide vaccination campaign, we are on the brink of exterminating polio for all time – but we’ve been there before, and polio keeps coming back. We’re up against huge logistical, political and ideological barriers, which both the Taliban and the CIA have helped to create.


This is a battle we must win – but can we ever succeed?