The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World
Paul Morland, John Murray, £25
A few years ago, I met Baratu Lee, a young mother living in a remote village in eastern Sierra Leone. She was – she thought – about 27 years old, and she already had 10 children. The first had been born when she was 12 or 13.
The infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone, at around 90 per thousand children, is among the highest in the world. Three of Baratu’s children died before their first birthday. It is little wonder that women in the world’s poorest countries continue to produce large families, knowing that too many of their children will die in infancy.