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No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses Hardcover – May 28, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039306316X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393063165
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Starred review. ...Piot helped assure that affordable drugs revolutionizing AIDS treatment would be available to the poorest victims. He leaves a legacy of change and hope in two worlds—medicine and politics—and an urgent reminder that their cooperation saves lives.” (Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Peter Piot, MD, PhD, is the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, former undersecretary general of the United Nations, and former executive director of UNAIDS. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Vic on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A bit of a disclaimer: My book came from the city library. I heard Dr. Piot's interview on NPR, put the book on hold, and received a pickup notice the next day.

Reading the book is a little like drinking out of a fire hose: the author was personally responsible for a number of important events I have read about in the newspaper-identification of Ebola virus, the issue of the Vatican opposing condoms because, according to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, condoms were permeable to the AIDS virus (which they are not). Just watch for these because they make for interesting discoveries and ahh moments. The bottom line is that the author was present at a number of events and was often the senior UN spokesman in his role as the executive director of UNAIDS.

The book is a memoir, and in it Dr. Piot is thoroughly direct and very frank regarding his views. For example, upon leaving his UNAIDS post in 2008 he explained: "I was not down nor relieved to abandon the influential pulpit of the UN, nor the snake pit of multilateral politics ... I must admit thought that it was a great feeling to no longer be held responsible for anything that goes wrong on AIDS anywhere in the world." However, Dr. Piot speaks with awe, joy and authority regarding his conversations with key world figures such as Kofi Annan (his boss), Fidel Castro, China Premier Wen Jiabao, and the chief executives of African countries. He also addressed the US Congress to request program funding, which he received.

The book outlines major events in Dr. Poit's life as they relate to the microbiology of infectious diseases, the identification of disease vectors, and a long administrative career at the UN basically trying to "herd cats.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Totoro on July 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up from the library as soon as I read the review in the Lancet and thoroughly enjoyed every page (so much so that I am purchasing my own copy and writing a review here, which I rarely do). Dr. Piot has had the good fortune of being a smart guy who was in the right place at the right time for several historic events. He tells his story with a charming blend of down-to-earth humor and shrewd insight, which is more than can be said for many other autobiographies that are printed. He also does a great job of explaining technical concepts and terms without ever slowing down the pace of the book, which is regularly peppered with fascinating vignettes of his experiences with dictators, health ministers, the clergy, and more. Some of these are laugh-out-loud funny, while others are sobering. Just these "war stories" alone are worth the price of the book.

The later chapters of the book describe the complicated political machinations that are part and parcel of a career in international civil servant. Some may find these less riveting than his swashbuckling early years chasing viruses in the jungle, but I was interested to see how a scientist became a successful people manager, activist, and diplomat - not an easy list of roles! While I agree with the shortcomings that the previous two reviews point out, I think their comments should be taken with a grain of salt. This is a man who has had a long and productive career, and while his naming names can be sometimes fascinating and sometimes frustrating, he should be forgiven for wanting to call out people who have traveled the same path with him. As for self-aggrandizing, well, it IS an autobiography, and it's all a matter of perspective.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jesse S. Walker on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book on the idea that it contained history about discovering Ebola and AIDS. While it does have this information it was a muddle to get through.

The author has lived what can only be considered a fascinating life in working in these epidemics but it barely shows. He spends dozens of pages telling you the comings and goings of dozens of scientists, all of which seem to be described as having a great sense of humor and brilliant, before he gives a little nugget of what doing his work was like. At about 150 pages in he essentially becomes an administrator and it gets worse before it gets better.

The description of the book gives the idea that the book was equally about both Ebola and AIDS but it turns out Ebola was really his lead into his AIDS work. While still noble it left me feeling slightly deceived by the publisher.

The book gives a lot of information about the discovery of AIDS and how things progressed but it really isn't as compelling as it could be. While he mentions the studies that were done, there appear to have been so many that he doesn't do a very good job of explaining their significance before moving on.

A life as obviously interesting as his has been really does deserve a better book, perhaps something more like Deadly Feasts: The "Prion" Controversy and the Public's Health. Sadly the author is almost certainly not the best person to write this book. I wanted to like this book (and I do admire the author) but the book is hopelessly muddled for the average reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Reynard VINE VOICE on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ebola, AIDS, these are viruses that the mere mention can cause people to become worried and alarmed. While there have been many campaigns to bring awareness to the causes that seek to treat and prevent them, there is still a certain stigma that hangs on to them. Peter Piot, in his work as UNAIDS head, seeks to reducer that stigma and help prevent the spread of AIDS with his work, and wrote this book to accompany those ideas.

Piot started off in medical school with the notion that he wanted to specialize in infectious diseases. And he was told no to bother since they were disappearing from the world. Luckily, he didn't listen, and was on hand to research the first few deadly outbreaks of Ebola and then be a part of the research team for AIDS. His longest work would be with AIDS and he would be a part of several organizations, including USAIDS, throughout his career. The book showed a little of his initial time spent in Zaire working with the Ebola virus and then the larger part of it would be about AIDS and the numerous meetings and people he met to discuss the worldwide effects of the virus.

There are a lot of people in this book. So many that keeping track of them would be absolutely mind boggling and if you didn't know them in real life or hadn't followed them through research papers and other documents, you'd be completely lost. How do I know this? I was completely lost as I didn't know who any of these people were and they were briefly mentioned only to be whisked away again. Piot himself is a clear narrator but while he describes a little bit of his homelife, we only really know his work life, and even that more on the bureaucratic side of things rather than the medical work with actual patients.
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