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Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time and the visionary mastermind behind it.

Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease study to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. While it is one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as breathtaking as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the questions it answers are meaningful for every one of us: What are the world's health problems? Who do they hurt? How much? Where? Why?

Murray argues that the ideal existence isn't simply the longest, but the one lived well and with the least illness. Until we can accurately measure global health issues, we cannot understand what makes us sick or do much to improve it. Challenging the accepted wisdom of the WHO and the UN, the charismatic and controversial health maverick has made enemies—as well as some influential friends, including Bill Gates who gave Murray a $100 million grant.

Told with novelistic verve by acclaimed journalist Jeremy N. Smith, the story of Murray's lifelong determination to understand how we live and die encompasses wars and famines, presidents and activists, billionaires and billions of people worldwide living in poverty. It shows the human side of scientific revolutions and of revolutionary scientists—their breakthroughs and setbacks, their genius and their flaws, their champions and their critics—as they strive to bring the news of their findings to the world. This transformational effort is far from over, but the story of its genesis and impact is already an epic tale.