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Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Quammen is not just among our best science writers but among our best writers.” (New York Times)

“A tidy book that explains everything we know, and everything we don't, about this terrifying disease.” (Nick Stockton - Wired)

“This slender book …does a nimble job of situating this year’s unnerving events in historical context… [Quammen's] book, like most writing about Ebola, is deeply unsettling, but it’s also sober minded, and in this respect, a standout in the floodlet of Ebola books, many of them quickie scare guides and medical thrillers.” (Michiko Kakutani - New York Times Book Review)

“David Quammen is a brilliant star of nature writing.” (Edward O. Wilson)

“David Quammen is a master.” (Bill Bryson) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Quammen is the author of The Song of the Dodo, among other books. He has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is the recipient of a John Burroughs Medal and the National Magazine Award. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; 1 Una edition (December 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501238981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501238987
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.6 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,068,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Let's Compare Options Preptorial TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since the publisher called this "material taken from Spillover" (Spillover is here: Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic) I wanted to compare it to that wonderful book. In particular, if it was just a way to capitalize on Ebola news and fears, with little more than Spillover reprinting, it would be better for the reader to just GET Spillover!

First, Spillover has over 100 pages on Ebola, including the 13 Gorillas primary chapter (vs. 12 Monkeys?) beginning on page 53. In fact, though, Ebola is peppered throughout all of Spillover in fine fashion, and given the little progress that has been made in the last few years (fruit bats, reservoir, etc.) one would assume that this new book doesn't have much new.

Well, one would be wrong, as I was. While chipping away at my PhD in Molecular Biology and supercomputing, I worked on the weaponization, epidemiology and response aspects of Ebola (as you might know, Reston had an airborne component, though not humanly virulent in the sense of Zaire/Congo strains) and am still a contributor to Weapbola dot com, although my primary field is now robotics.

Both technically and "story wise" this new book is well worth the investment, even if you have read Spillover. Quammen is one of the best Science writers still publishing today, and his books, blogs and articles are always page turners, with deep science woven flawlessly into the narrative. The book is current and up to date as recently as a couple months ago at this writing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen

"Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus" is a very interesting behind-the-scenes look at the quest to find the host animal carrying this devastating virus. This brief book is a product of sections of his 2012 book Spillover and recent events. Accomplished author and science journalist, David Quammen takes the reader on a journey through the jungles of Africa in search of the reservoir host. This exciting 128-page is broken out into 21 chapters.

Positives:
1. Solid science writing. Well researched and engaging.
2. The hot-button topic of the day.
3. Quammen has a good grasp of the topic and writes with skill. It feels more like an action book than a standard-of-the-mill popular science book.
4. Like a good philosopher Quammen asks the right questions and its science's quest to get the answers.
5. A partial view of the history and science of Ebola. It's very accessible and focuses more on the quest to find the host.
6. Introduces and explains terms in an accessible manner. "A reservoir host is a species that carries the pathogen, harbors it chronically, while suffering little or no illness."
7. Does a great job of capturing the difficulties associated with tracking down the sources of viruses and in particular the Ebola virus. "Zoonotic pathogens can hide. That's what makes them so interesting, so complicated, and so problematic." Ebola is a zoonosis.
8. Provides many examples of other viruses that shed light on the Ebola virus. "Johnson had helped solve the Machupo crisis by his attention to the ecological dimension--that is, where did the virus live when it wasn't killing Bolivian villagers?
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Format: Kindle Edition
As someone not trained in this field, I found this book to be a fascinating study. I appreciate the author defining some of the basic terms, such as "zoonosis." Scientists trained in this field will probably find these preliminary definitions redundant, but I think most readers will appreciate the tutorials.

The author recounts his numerous journeys with researchers trying to identify the "Reservoir" of the Ebola virus. Quammen explains to the novice that a reservoir is the species that lets the virus live inside it, awaiting future spread to some other species. "A reservoir host is a species that carries the pathogen, harbors it chronically, while suffering little or no illness."

I had no idea that BATS were such a focus of attention. Quammen emphasizes, however, that bats have not been conclusively identified as the reservoir.

√ I learned a LOT from reading EBOLA. The author includes at the rear of the book Source Notes and Selected Biography, to support his statements. Recommend!
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Read this in one three hour sitting. The author does a great job writing for the lay, but sophisticated reader. The book is technical enough to maintain the interest of a non-virologist who nonetheless has the capacity and motivation to understand the struggles inherent in the quest to understand the origins, evolution and mechanisms of zoonotic diseases. The author teaches through personal anecdotes of people whose lives have been touched by Ebola and through distillations of complex science through the re-telling of direct conversations and personal experiences with the researchers themselves. Personally, I also appreciate the author's refusal to engage in sensationalist journalism (and his criticism of such accounts). The realities of these diseases are grave enough and need not be elaborated upon with Hollywood-esque dramatizations. Great book. Highly recommend.
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