Help Publish this timely book: VACCINES & BAYONETS

Another virus. Another pandemic. In a climate of sociopolitical upheaval. The memoir of one family's life during smallpox eradication could not be more timely. You can help publish this important book.

VACCINES & BAYONETS: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War: A wife's story (Working title) is a story that needs to be read. This is an exciting opportunity for you if . . . .

you care about pandemics. You care about a time when a major pandemic was stopped. Or care about families adjusting to a life in global health. Or want to know more about despots who hijacked post-colonial independence.

You can be a part of getting VACCINES & BAYONETS out into the world.
Both by monetary support (note reward levels at the end of this post) and by sharing this link with your network.

Enjoy this one-minute video clip of my husband's team in Kano State, Nigeria, in 1969. People were so thankful for this life-saving campaign they often ran toward the smallpox truck as we drove past. They shouted, "Ranka didi" - may you live long!

There's a pandemic. CDC moves my family to West Africa where my husband will help eradicate smallpox. I've always wanted to live in Africa, and every day brings exciting new discoveries.  But a tribal massacre, women hidden behind walls, bayonet-wielding soldiers and a bloodthirsty dictator chip away my romanticized notions. When global cooperation succeeds in wiping smallpox off the face of the planet, I'm proud that my family played its part.


"The year was 1969, and we were in the Cold War. The powerful eyed the resource-rich continent of Africa with its newly and soon-to-be independent countries. China, Russia and her allies, America and hers all purchased loyalty with aid. They fought proxy wars. They maneuvered to outwit each other in now widely documented espionage. But amid these intrigues and power plays, there was a mutual enemy against which all nations had common cause. A virus. A disease with no cure and no treatment. Smallpox.

In this Cold War context, my husband Carl and I, with two young children and wide-eyed ideals, moved to West Africa in the global war to blockade the virus. Carl passionately joined the battle. I eagerly followed him into a world completely foreign to my small-town roots, first to a country that was always in the news and then to one that should have been.

The first: Nigeria. Larger than the US state of Texas. Embroiled in a civil war, the Nigeria-Biafra War. If people hadn’t cared about Africans killing Africans, they did care about starving Biafran babies. The powerful chose sides. The world watched and wept.

Our second assignment: Equatorial Guinea. A tiny dot on the map, smaller than the US state of Maryland. Newly independent and with no reportage escaping its borders, it was plunged into a reign of terror. A blanket of fear muffled its screams. The powerful chose silence. The world didn’t watch, didn’t weep, didn’t even know the place existed."

                                                                                * * * * *


When Carl later became one of two officials in America’s smallest embassy, he had to deal with the virus AND a regime known as The Terror. Isolated, I kept cryptic notes and hid them in the sock drawer.

Those notes are now crucial to VACCINES & BAYONETS.

A brief clip from an author interview reveals the extensive personal archives of contemporaneous documents that support and supplement memory. 


“Meninge urged our double-cab truck over washboard roads and cow tracks as we pressed north in the direction of the Sahara. In the front seat with his driver, my husband leaned forward, searching. At the last mud-walled village he’d learned that a group of nomads was camped nearer Nigeria’s border with Niger, and he had to find them before they moved on. With no new case of smallpox reported for several months, this was a high-risk period when people might let down their guard. Carl and his teams had to search for and quickly quarantine any new case to prevent re-introduction of smallpox. Contact tracing and the legwork of battling a virus are arduous tasks among any mobile population.

From the back seat I peered out through the fine dust. Twenty-foot termite hills, spires of ochre clay, anchored a ghostly landscape that dissolved into white sky. An occasional camel grazed on thorn bush and stunted acacia.”

                                                                            * * * * *

“Morning in Nigeria began with the jingle of bicycle bells as the smell of charcoal cooking fires and a succession of traders arrived at our door. Each vendor offered a different specialty—bread, green vegetables and potatoes, mangoes, groundnuts, eggs and chickens. . . .Adamu knew how to choose a young, tender chicken. He checked for bright feathers, and bright, not faded, colors of beak, comb and earlobes.

Earlobes! A chicken has earlobes?”

                                                                            * * * * * 

“Musa didn’t interact with the others. There’d be no palaver with this fierce warrior of the Sahara. Man of few words. None needed.

Adamu laughed with a contagious melody that drew you in. He took delight in the smallest things it seemed. At least he was always smiling. If Carl or I argued or sounded worried, his brow furrowed, his eyes probed, and his head adopted a perplexed tilt to one side. Just how serious was our problem anyway?

I’d like to be him when I grow up.”

                                                                            * * * * *

“Two American friends and I with our four children in tow walked through the gate of the medieval palace. . . .We knew our way. Passing through a couple of outer gates, we soon entered the harem’s familiar courtyard. Our children kicked their sandals into the dust as we headed across the courtyard where a couple of us had kicked up some dust ourselves—back during the big festival. An ancient tree's gnarled trunk provided the one spot of interest in the long colorless rectangle.

When we reached our destination, the princess greeted us with her usual warmth. On this occasion she wore a beautiful purplish wrapper embossed with gold, and the shimmer of a purple silk turban framed her face. She was lovely. She had been educated in England, but now as a wife of the emir she was secluded behind palace walls.”

                                                                            * * * * * 

After Transfer to Equatorial Guinea

“Soon after daylight I opened our louvered shutters, their varnish always sticky in this half-mile between sea and rainforest. Carl grinned as we pushed the State Department furniture back against the walls. It was summer here near the equator, but today would be like Christmas and birthdays rolled into one. After a full year of crawling from port to port between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Santa Isabel, Equatorial Guinea, our missing household shipment was arriving. Nothing could spoil this day.

. . . . Despite protests from Carl and me, seven Guardia Nacional crowded into our living room with their semi-automatic rifles and fixed bayonets. The Comandante signaled us to unpack.”

                                                                           * * * * *

“The familiar soup of an equatorial afternoon surged up from the tarmac and pulled me into it as I came down the steps of the little Convair 440.

I resisted the Guinean official who tried to take the diplomatic pouch I was carrying, and then I looked beyond the Guardia, with their semi-automatic rifles. My husband stood rigid outside the shabby terminal. Carl’s jaw set, his feigned smile tight, he shifted awkwardly. He’s trying too hard to look casual. Something’s up.

The customs shed’s dim light obscured any clues I might have gathered from a closer look at his face. . . .

Lemon grass lined the sides of the island’s one well-maintained road, and the citrus-like aroma floated in and penetrated the silence as we rode along the edge of the rainforest into town.”

                                                                           * * * * *


I have invested what I could to get to this point--costs of coaching and editing for example.

Your donations will make possible the following services for VACCINES & BAYONETS:
·      Final editing
·      Cover design
·      Interior design
·      Inclusion of maps and photos
·      Printing
·      Distribution of eBooks and print books
If the goal is surpassed, any additional funds will be used in marketing the book.


Funds needed by November 1, 2020
Editing, production and printing process begins at funding date
Book release 4 to 5 months post funding date

Your help in making this important publication a reality, in getting it in the hands of people to read, well, there's no way I can thank each of you enough! For your participation, for your donation, for your part in bringing to light these lessons from the past. And the world will thank you too.

Do I receive a reward in addition to the personal satisfaction of seeing VACCINES & BAYONETS in print?
Donate $5, $10, $20 just so the story will be told.
Receive recognition on social media

$25 or more – Virus Fighter
Receive a digital copy of the book

$50 or more – Disease Detective
Receive a physical copy of the book.

$75 or more – Health Attache
One each: digital and physical copies

$100 or more – Ambassador + Name in lights
One digital copy; 1 signed physical copy for you + a signed physical copy to give as gift; your name in the acknowledgements 

$500 or more – Book Club
15 copies of the physical book; 15 bookmarks; name of your book club in the acknowledgements and on the book website
^Ships to: US address only

$1000 or more – Sponsor
30 copies of the physical book; 30 bookmarks; name of your company or organization in the acknowledgements and on the book website
^Ships to: US address only

$3000 or more - Gold Sponsor
50 copies of the physical book;  50 bookmarks; name of your company or organization in the acknowledgements and on the book website; and
the author will come (at author's expense if in the US) and present up to a half-day program for your group.
^Ships to: US address only

(Estimated shipping date of all the above to be determined when a date is available from the publisher and will be posted in an update on this site.)

                                                                     THANK YOU!!
  • Angela Elliott 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Jackie Powell 
    • $25 
    • 8 mos
  • maria angle 
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
  • Angela Elliott 
    • $200 
    • 10 mos
See all


Bee Harbin Bloeser 
Santa Barbara, CA
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