Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic Hardcover – October 1, 2012
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|Hardcover, October 1, 2012||
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- Publishers Weekly
“David Quammen might be my favorite living science writer: amiable, erudite, understated, incredibly funny, profoundly humane. The best of his books, The Song of the Dodo, renders the relatively arcane field of island biogeography as gripping as a thriller. That bodes well for his new book, whose subject really is thriller-worthy: how deadly diseases (AIDS, SARS, Ebola) make the leap from animals to humans, and how, where, and when the next pandemic might emerge.”
- Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
“That [Quammen] hasn’t won a nonfiction National Book Award or Pulitzer Prize is an embarrassment.”
- Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“David Quammen [is] one of that rare breed of science journalists who blend exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling.”
- Nathan Wolfe, Nature
“Starred review. An essential work.”
“Starred review. A wonderful, eye-opening account of humans versus disease.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“[Spillover is] David Quammen’s absorbing, lively and, yes, occasionally gory trek through the animal origins of emerging human diseases.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
“As page turning as Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone… [Quammen is] one of the best science writers.”
- Seattle Times
“[Spillover] delivers news from the front lines of public health. It makes clear that animal diseases are inseparable from us because we are inseparable from the natural world.”
- Philadelphia Tribune
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If you want to have the bejeezus scared out of you, this is your book, but that won’t last long. You will be left knowing so many how’s and whys that you’ll want the author to write another book as soon as you’ve finished to last page of this one. A very satisfying book to read, and finish.
Author David Quammen has written an important, informative, and entertaining (really!) book. He has taken on a potentially dry and depressing subject and made it both understandable and interesting. He's a very good science writer and I'll be looking forward to reading more titles from him.
Quammen takes the reader on a journey through the world of epidemiologists, pathologists, veterinarians, and other scientists who put their health and lives on the line in the name of world health and science. He takes us into the story of some of the most deadly recent diseases in the world, all of which have jumped from animals to humans. This is a fascinating and critical story.
Its a long book. My one mild criticism would be I think it could have been edited down somewhat without damaging its content or quality.
I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in the subject.
Quammen keeps the balance between travel and adventure writing on the one hand, personal interviews (of the "His desk is piled high with papers, and he's wearing blue corduroy slacks and a black turtleneck and wire-rim glasses" type), and real science writing. You learn a lot about diseases from the microscopic level to the human story of what it's like to have the disease, to the incredible courage and dedication of the people who fight the diseases, whether in the clinic or in the lab.
Realistically, most of us are at essentially zero risk of dying of Ebola, but Quammen balances that with insight into things that might really harm us--SARS, AIDS, and the good old flu, which could still come roaring back as a killer.
I was sorry when it ended.
Top international reviews
If anyone thought a book about virology, epidemics and human pandemics would be hard work and boring, they would be wrong. Quammen's book is gripping, moving and exciting. And this easy-to-read book clearly explains the complex dynamics between viruses, insects, birds, mammals and humans. This is first book I have found that defines the replication, random mutation and transmission of viruses in a most straightforward manner.
Quammen opens with a description of the virus Hendra, which attacks horses with devastating results with occasional spillover to humans. He moves on Ebola before tackling malaria, Lyme disease, SAR-CoV, HIV and many others. His SAR-CoV interviews with scientists, doctors, patients and survivors reveal a frightening similarity and timeline to the current Coronavirus crisis, whilst underlining one of the most important differences: SAR-CoV showed symptoms almost immediately, whilst CoVid-19 symptoms show themselves several weeks after infection, by which time the virus has been widely spread. Quammen's commentaries revealing the suffering and treatment of many of the victims of these epidemics are compelling, compassionate and intensely moving.
He also provides superb unbiased analyses of the research into each disease, setting alternative theories side by side, and gently leading the reader through complex matters such epidemiology, virology and mathematical epidemiology. His research is backed up by incredible personal experiences - such as following the catching and sampling of bats in Bangladesh and in the horrendous cobra-infested caves of Uganda.
This is an excellent thought-provoking book - intelligent, well researched popular science at its best.
It demonstrates clearly the interconnection of all life on earth and how our damaging impact upon the environment can have some very grave consequences for us.
David Quammen's style of writing makes this book a compulsive read, you literally can't put it down. This is no dry academic study but a personal investigation into a fascinating subject.
It informs without the drama and fear factor of some other books on this subject I have read. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in this subject!!
Best non-fiction book I've read possibly ever.
The chapter on SARS was educational and scary at the same time >Really brought home how vulnerable we are as a mobile global community.