Celebrating a Complicated Legacy
This epilogue considers the legacy of the global smallpox eradication program. It identifies the tension between the celebration of the disease's eradication and equivocation on the destruction of the last remaining stocks of variola, the smallpox virus. It details how victory over smallpox inspired campaigns against other diseases; the continued research into smallpox as scientists seek to build on their mastery of the disease; and how the eradication of smallpox shaped understandings of and responses to the Ebola outbreak. The chapter concludes that living in the post-smallpox eradication world means both appreciating and reckoning with the program's successes, ironies, and complicated legacies. It means recognizing where the remarkable accomplishment of smallpox eradication came from, including the political and ideological contexts—namely, Cold War competition and American Great Society-era liberal idealism—that helped make the eradication program a reality.
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