It is a condition shrouded in mystery, legend, religious fanaticism and centuries of vilification of its sufferers around the world. By the sheer accident of mycobacterial infection, its sufferers have been condemned to exile, imprisonment and even the imputation of moral taint, as if the illness itself were a punishment. Still today, leprosy remains a mysterious condition, the very word conjuring up vivid associations, both metaphorical and real. Through the lives of individual men and women: intrepid doctors, ubiquitous missionaries and a vast spectrum of patients, Tony Gould traces the mysterious history of this disease apart. From Father Damien to Robert Louis Stevenson, the personalities met on his journey are remarkable and their stories unfold against the backgrounds of Norway, Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria, Nepal and Louisiana. Although since the l950s there has at last existed a class of drugs called sulphones which cure cases caught early and even arrest more advanced cases, leprosy remains a subject about which many people have unanswered questions. In his superb and enlightened book, Tony Gould throws light into the shadows and eloquently enriches our understanding.