Industrial Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Learn more Adele egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Gifts Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals Shop Now HTL

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Audible Sample

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus Audible – Unabridged

146 customer reviews

See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Audible, Unabridged
"Please retry"
Free with your Audible trial

Listen on your Kindle Fire or with the free Audible app on Apple, Android, and Windows devices.

Read & Listen

Switch between reading the Kindle book & listening on the Audible narration with Whispersync for Voice.
Get the Audible audiobook for the reduced price of $4.49 after you buy the Kindle book.
Free with Audible trial
Buy with 1-Click

Sold and delivered by Audible, an Amazon company

Editorial Reviews

A maddened creature, frothing at the mouth, lunges at an innocent victim-and with a bite, transforms its prey into another raving monster. It's a scenario that underlies our darkest tales of supernatural horror, but its power derives from a very real virus, a deadly scourge known to mankind from our earliest days. In this fascinating exploration, journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart four thousand years in the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies.

The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. A disease that spreads avidly from animals to humans, rabies has served as a symbol of savage madness and inhuman possession throughout history. Today, its history can help shed light on the wave of emerging diseases-from AIDS to SARS to avian flu-with origins in animal populations.

From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind's oldest and most fearsome foes.

Bill Wasik is a senior editor at Wired magazine and was previously a senior editor at Harper's, where he wrote on culture, media, and politics. He is the editor of the anthology Submersion Journalism and has also written for Oxford American, Slate, Salon, and McSweeney's.

©2012 Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Erin Satie VINE VOICE on July 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It is unfortunate that Rabid's best chapters fall at the end of the book. I loved reading about Louis Pasteur's experiments and the rabies outbreak in Bali. The author, Bill Wasik, finally has real personalities to work with, real scientific challenges to chronicle, real stories to tell. After slogging through the first two-thirds of Rabid I perked up and found myself thinking, "Well, most of this book was a chore to read but this...this!...would make a great magazine article."

And if that sounds like damning by faint praise,'s meant to. Rabid is not one of those books whose defined, narrow subject cuts an exciting trail through the vastness of history. It tries to be. It traces the emergence of rabies from ancient Egypt to the present, it grapples with the cultural history of animal domestication, the interplay between cultural prejudice and scientific discovery, the forward march of science and the sheer power of fear.

It would be awesome, except that it isn't. Huge chunks of the book are very academic, dense, factual prose. Which is interesting if the author has some revolutionary argument to make. Some brilliant idea to frame and polish. Wasik is just cataloguing what seems to be every single historical mention of rabies ever. I felt like I was reading an earnest undergraduate paper and I pitied all of my former professors.

The closer that Wasik gets to the present the more interesting his material. He's got chops enough to make the story of rabies in the modern world pretty fascinating - everything from Louis Pasteur to the present is great. All of a sudden he's writing narrative non-fiction of the kind I like most, where there's a story and characters, challenges to overcome, anecdotes to relate.

There's some good stuff in here, but I'd only recommend the book to people who are either (a) deeply, deeply interested in rabies or (b) really guiltless about skimming the boring bits.
6 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have explored the disease in "Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus."

"Diabolic," defined as a characteristic of the devil, is a good word to use. The almost always-fatal (if untreated) virus renders its victims 'hydrophobic' - terrified of water. As the victims mind devolves into a virus-ravaged insanity, whatever personality once held by the person or animal disappears, replaced by a no-doubt devilish incoherence and rage.

Every 'zombie' movie basically has rabies as the model - an untreatable disease where killing the victim even before the disease's onset is considered the humane course of action. The authors use examples of Will Smith's "I Am Legend," where his character kills his dog, his only friend, as soon as a rabies-like condition presents itself, and "Old Yeller," the frontier tragedy, which saw the title character unfairly suffer the same fate.

"Rabies" is written as a cultural history, much more than a medical journal or report. It's mostly third-person, until the end. The authors do dwell on various treatment options - and a chapter is given to Louis Pastuer's discovery of the rabies vacciene. But their primary goal is showing how this disease has factored into various cultural fears for hundreds of years.

Even without much true scientific knowledge, the doctors of the Middle Ages and before could still see the link between a 'mad' dog's bite, and the similar, fatal condition that the victim might then suffer. The terror of such a ghastly disease - with such an obvious and common cause - would clearly have made it far more horrible than an equally fatal flu or cancer, where no such link existed.
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth E. MacWilliams on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book about the history of a specific medical scourge that I have read in the past year and one half. The first was Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer Prize winning "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" (please see my Amazon review). With "Rapid" I hoped for a second such extraordinary and wonderful ride. What came most to mind though is what Senator Lloyd Bentsen replied to Senator Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice-presidential debate: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

That's a somewhat unfair comparison though, and it's not to say that "Rabid" is not a good book, because it is. It's simply that few books can match "Emperor". "Rapid" is just exactly what its husband and wife authors William Wasik, senior editor of Wired Magazine and veterinarian Monica Murphy say it is -- "a cultural history". "Rapid" saves you doing an internet search using such search words and phrases as "Rabies", "Rabies in Popular Culture", "Rabies History", "Rabies Historical Timeline" and then exploring the many resultant links. And then it pulls all of these play-by-play results together for you, sifts and organizes and edits them, expands a bit on them in some key places, and throws in a lot of juicy color commentary along the way. From the emergence of this horrible problem of rabies at the dawn of mankind and mythology, on down to its scientific discovery and cure, and then on to current medical practice, the authors spread across their book's landscape multiple tales of madness and its often grotesque consequences including how it rears its ugly and frightening head so often in literature.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews