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About David Quammen
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"[Mr. Quammen] is not just among our best science writers but among our best writers, period." —Dwight Garner, New York Times
The next big human pandemic—the next disease cataclysm, perhaps on the scale of AIDS or the 1918 influenza—is likely to be caused by a new virus coming to humans from wildlife. Experts call such an event “spillover” and they warn us to brace ourselves. David Quammen has tracked this subject from the jungles of Central Africa, the rooftops of Bangladesh, and the caves of southern China to the laboratories where researchers work in space suits to study lethal viruses. He illuminates the dynamics of Ebola, SARS, bird flu, Lyme disease, and other emerging threats and tells the story of AIDS and its origins as it has never before been told. Spillover reads like a mystery tale, full of mayhem and clues and questions. When the Next Big One arrives, what will it look like? From which innocent host animal will it emerge? Will we be ready?
In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important; we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT.
In The Tangled Tree, “the grandest tale in biology….David Quammen presents the science—and the scientists involved—with patience, candor, and flair” (Nature). We learn about the major players, such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.
“David Quammen proves to be an immensely well-informed guide to a complex story” (The Wall Street Journal). In The Tangled Tree, he explains how molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life—including where we humans fit upon it. Thanks to new technologies, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition—through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing. “The Tangled Tree is a source of wonder….Quammen has written a deep and daring intellectual adventure” (The Boston Globe).
EL LIBRO INTERNACIONAL DE REFERENCIA DURANTE LA CUARENTENA.
Desde hace años, para los expertos y cualquier persona informada, el estallido de la siguiente pandemia era una cuestión de tiempo, y su origen, evidente: un virus latente en animales que diera el salto al ser humano como el HIV que provocó el SIDA o el H1N1 que causó la gripe de 1918, el ébola, el SARS, el virus de Marburgo o el que produjo la gripe aviar. En esta obra de referencia internacional, David Quammen se sumerge en la historia reciente de esas enfermedades zoonóticas, y persigue su rastro en compañía de los mejores científicos del mundo en la selva centroafricana, las cuevas de China meridional o las azoteas de Bangladés, pero también en los sofisticados laboratorios cuyo personal investiga virus letales bajo las más altas medidas de seguridad. Aunque Contagio se lee como un thriller, repleto de incidentes, pistas e interrogantes, a la vista de la crisis desatada por la aparición del SARS-CoV-2, su lectura no solo resulta apasionante; es imprescindible.
«Quammen es el mejor reportero del mundo natural.»
Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
«David Quammen es el mejor escritor de historia natural; sus libros impresionan por su precisión, su energía y su escritura brillante y evocativa.»
David Barash, The Wall Streer Journal
«El libro que me ayudó a entender la dinámica de lo que estaba pasando.»
«Deslumbrante Quammen: desvela lo que nos hace vivir y lo que nos mata con pasión, humor y conocimiento.»
Daniel Arjona, El confidencial
«Un libro aterrador pero fundamental para entender la próxima pandemia global.»
«Que Quammen no haya ganado un premio Pulitzer es una auténtica vergüenza.»
Dwight Garner, The New York Times
«Una obra esencial.»
Booklist (Starred Review)
In this "frightening and fascinating masterpiece" (Walter Isaacson), David Quammen explores the true origins of HIV/AIDS.
The real story of AIDS—how it originated with a virus in a chimpanzee, jumped to one human, and then infected more than 60 million people—is very different from what most of us think we know. Recent research has revealed dark surprises and yielded a radically new scenario of how AIDS began and spread. Excerpted and adapted from the book Spillover, with a new introduction by the author, Quammen's hair-raising investigation tracks the virus from chimp populations in the jungles of southeastern Cameroon to laboratories across the globe, as he unravels the mysteries of when, where, and under what circumstances such a consequential "spillover" can happen. An audacious search for answers amid more than a century of data, The Chimp and the River tells the haunting tale of one of the most devastating pandemics of our time.
brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope,
far-reaching in its message -- a crucial book in
precarious times, which radically alters the way in
which we understand the natural world and our place
in that world. It's also a book full of entertainment
In The Song of the Dodo, we follow Quammen's keen
intellect through the ideas, theories, and experiments
of prominent naturalists of the last two centuries.
We trail after him as he travels the world,
tracking the subject of island biogeography, which
encompasses nothing less than the study of the origin
and extinction of all species. Why is this island
idea so important? Because islands are where
species most commonly go extinct -- and because, as
Quammen points out, we live in an age when all of
Earth's landscapes are being chopped into island-like
fragments by human activity.
Through his eyes, we glimpse the nature of evolution
and extinction, and in so doing come to understand
the monumental diversity of our planet, and
the importance of preserving its wild landscapes,
animals, and plants. We also meet some fascinating
human characters. By the book's end we are wiser,
and more deeply concerned, but Quammen
leaves us with a message of excitement and hope.
“A frightening and fascinating masterpiece of science reporting that reads like a detective story.” —Walter Isaacson
In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace. Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90 percent of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike. Acclaimed science writer and explorer David Quammen first came near the virus while he was traveling in the jungles of Gabon, accompanied by local men whose village had been devastated by a recent outbreak. Here he tells the story of Ebola—its past, present, and its unknowable future.
Extracted from Spillover by David Quammen, updated and with additional material.
"Quammen brilliantly and powerfully re-creates the 19th century naturalist's intellectual and spiritual journey."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
Twenty-one years passed between Charles Darwin's epiphany that "natural selection" formed the basis of evolution and the scientist's publication of On the Origin of Species. Why did Darwin delay, and what happened during the course of those two decades? The human drama and scientific basis of these years constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution.
"Rich detail and vivid anecdotes of adventure....A treasure trove of exotic fact and hard thinking." —New York Times Book Review
For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. We no longer occupy an intermediate position on the food chain; instead we survey it invulnerably from above—so far above that we are in danger of forgetting that we even belong to an ecosystem.
Casting his expert eye over the rapidly diminishing areas of wilderness where predators still reign, the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo and The Tangled Tree examines the fate of lions in India's Gir forest, of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia, of brown bears in the mountains of Romania, and of Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. In the poignant and troublesome ferocity of these embattled creatures, we recognize something primeval deep within us, something in danger of vanishing forever.
"David Quammen is simply the best natural essayist working today."--Tim Cahill, author of Lost in My Own Backyard
"Lively writing about science and nature depends less on the offering of good answers, I think, than on the offering of good questions," said David Quammen in the original introduction to Natural Acts. For more than two decades, he has stuck to that credo. In this updated version of curiosity leads him from New Mexico to Romania, from the Congo to the Amazon, asking questions about mosquitoes (what are their redeeming merits?), dinosaurs (how did they change the life of a dyslexic Vietnam vet?), and cloning (can it save endangered species?).
This revised and expanded edition best-loved "Natural Acts" columns, which first appeared in Outside magazine in the early 1980s, and includes recent pieces such as "Planet of Weeds," an influential new Natural Acts is an eye-opening journey that will please both Quammen fans and newcomers to his work.
Song lyrics have been redacted from this ebook owing to permissions issues.
When Soviet agent Viktor Tronko defected to the US in 1964, he made two intriguing claims: he insisted that Russia had not placed a mole inside the CIA, and that Lee Harvey Oswald had not been recruited to assassinate the president. Convinced that Tronko was working as a disinformation agent, the CIA furiously did everything they could to break him. But Tronko had one more surprise for them: he refused to break.
Almost two decades later, former CIA officer Mel Pokorny shows up at journalist Michael Kessler’s house and offers to talk about Tronko. It’s the scoop of a lifetime for Kessler. But the more he investigates, the closer he gets to the truth: a truth so shocking that someone would do anything to keep it under wraps. This could be the biggest story of his life…if it doesn’t kill him first.
Filled with fascinating characters and darkly delicious humor, The Soul of Viktor Tronko is a rich, suspenseful espionage saga inspired by a true story.
In lucid, penetrating, and often quirkily idiosyncratic prose, David Quammen takes his readers with him as he explores the world. His travels lead him to rattlesnake handlers in Texas; a lizard specialist in Baja; the dinosaur museum in Jordan, Montana; and halfway across Indonesia in search of the perfect Durian fruit. He ponders the history of nutmeg in the southern Moluccas, meditates on bioluminescent beetles while soaking in the waters of the Amazon, and delivers "The Dope on Eggs" from a chicken ranch near his hometown in Montana.
Quammen's travels are always jumping-off points to explore the rich and sometimes horrifying tension between humankind and the natural world, in all its complexity and ambivalence. The result is another irrepressible assortment of ideas to explore, conundrums to contemplate, and wondrous creatures to behold.