Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2020
This reads like part diary, part political pandering, part book report by the class egghead.
It's not particularly good but I guess it has good reviews because it's on a "sophisticated" topic so people who read it wants to pat themselves on the back.
First of all, the writing is just plain bad. It's hard to follow. The writer flits from subject to subject, with no clear introductions, and has a bizarre habit of burying important information in minor sentences inside of paragraphs. For instance, he has an entire chapter on how he played detective tracking down the origins of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and then inside of a huge chapter he buries the answer with no preface inside of a chapter whose introductory sentence is about a different topic! Yikes!
I'll document it here for the heck of it. Here is the first sentence of the paragraph, about bad data interpreation, "What that meant was that data from previous CDC study has been subjected to biased, selected national case reporting due to media coverage of the role of Rely tampons in causing TSS, and was completely misinterpreted." Here is the second sentence of the paragraph, secretly introducing the key answer to the entire chapter of what caused TSS, "We eventually determined that the key factor in the development of TSS and the relationship between fluid capacity was the increased release of oxygen..."
The book has just plain bad writing. It needs the help of an editor. When he talks about Ebola, he explains the reason it spread in 2014 was, "many factors...including adherence to traditional funerary and burial practices that involved extensive physical contact with infected dead bodies[.]" Come on man. Just write "Witch doctors were performing rituals on dead bodies."
This book reads like a diary because it's not exactly about bacteria and viruses so much as it is a log of where and when and whom the author spoke with and worked on particular dates.
The political pandering refers to how each Committee and person he introduces he talks about how he is buddies with them and how that person was such a genius and inspiration. it gets a bit tiring. The author seems almost like a politician himself who wants to curry favor.
The "book report" part is a reference to the authors penchant for throwing as many academic acronyms and statistics in here as possible. Which could be helpful, to back up and underlie his analysis, but the way he does it seems more like an attempt to sound authoritative and fill up space. A lot of the time he doesn't even present analysis or science. He just says he knows.
For instance, he says the anthrax attacks on America were carried out by a deranged scientist Ivins. He doesn't say how he knows. He just says he knows. Well that is highly controversial and most people disagree with him. If he's going to bring it up, why not lay out the case? It would be very on topic and interesting for the reader.
Perhaps it gets into my final point which is that the author has political biases. When talking about the threat of future anthrax attacks, for instance, he says yes "Islamic extremists" are a threat, but be careful, because the Ku Klux Klan may attack with anthrax too! Yeah sure thing Doctor.
Anyway, there are a couple interesting points in the book but in my estimation it isn't worth the time.