Crawford, Matthew James. The Andean Wonder Drug: Cinchona Bark and Imperial Science in the Spanish Atlantic, 1630-1800. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.
By N. H. Gill
Matthew Crawford’s The Andean Wonder Drug is a fascinating history of quina, the medicinal tree bark of the chinchona tree, native to the Andean forests of South America. Crawford explores the “entanglement of European sciences and empires” to challenge historical narratives that focus on nineteenth-century Britain as the driver of scientific discovery. Instead, he argues that indigenous and local knowledge production in New World colonies, such as Andean knowledge about quina to treat malaria in what is today Loja, Ecuador, was critical to the scientific tradition of the Atlantic World (6).