ACDelco Radiators & Heating Components Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Watches Cloud Drive Photos nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums belkin Fire TV Stick Beauty Videos Introducing Handmade Create an Amazon Wedding Registry Amazon Gift Card Offer wdftv wdftv wdftv  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Shop Now Kids Halloween

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.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Unbeatable customer service, and we usually ship the same or next day. Over one million satisfied customers!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Virus X: Tracking the New Killer Plagues--Out of the Present & Into the Future Hardcover – February 1, 1997

26 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Hardcover, February 1, 1997
$2.95 $0.01

This Moment Is Full of Wonders by Thich Nhat Hanh
"This Moment Is Full of Wonders" by Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the world’s most revered teachers of Zen Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh's renowned calligraphy artworks are now collected and published in book form for the first time. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews Review

Who needs Stephen King when there are such real-life horrors as those described in Dr. Frank Ryan's new book, Virus X to keep sleep at bay? Such exotic killers as Ebola and Necrotizing Fasciitis rub elbows with more familiar, if no less potentially lethal, diseases like tuberculosis as Dr. Ryan constructs a well-researched and well-written study that reads more like a thriller than a science book. The heroes are the doctors, nurses, and patients on the frontlines of plague as well as the researchers at laboratories such as the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia; the enemies are the myriad new viruses and virulent new strains of old viruses that are emerging in ever greater numbers as this century wears to a close.

Dr. Ryan's answer for why so many plagues are ravaging the world these days is simple but chilling: a huge explosion in population (6 billion people alive today versus 1.5 billion a century ago) and the resulting destruction of habitats has brought human beings into contact with aggressive viruses that once lived beyond our reach; our global transportation systems spread them. Virus X is not the first book to raise these issues, but it's a comprehensive one, making for gripping, frightening reading.

From Publishers Weekly

The first half of Ryan's second book (after The Forgotten Plague, 1993) is a riveting nonfiction medical thriller packed with information. Ryan, a British physician, details the methodologies and personalities behind the investigations into some of the world's most deadly viral epidemics, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Ebola fever and AIDS. The book's final nine chapters, however, are far less successful. In them, Ryan attempts to explain the ecological reasons for deadly outbreaks of plagues?but it quickly becomes apparent that he is not an ecologist. Not only does he subscribe to the outdated view of natural selection being red in tooth and claw, he fails to distinguish between process and outcome, referring to both natural selection and symbiosis as "natural laws" when, in fact, the latter comes about through the former. Additionally, he ventures over the poetic edge with such sentences as, "viruses have, through the empirics of evolution, become unwitting knights of nature, armed by evolution for furious genomic attack against her transgressors." The disappointing latter half of the book tarnishes but doesn't completely overshadow the earlier quality and excitement of what might have been another Hot Zone but isn't. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316763837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316763837
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,882,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of us who are nervous about the current anthrax outbreak, "Virus X" will not make very soothing bedtime reading. Dr. Ryan describes emerging plagues such as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, AIDS, and Junin fever in grim, gory, pathological detail. If that were not enough to keep his readers sleepless, the author spends the last few chapters theorizing on why new and perhaps deadlier plagues may soon emerge. In the final chapter, "Virus X - The Doomsday Scenario," he discusses the (thus far, theoretical) makeup of a virus that could cause the extinction of the human race.
Viruses already exist that are uniformly fatal to people, if not treated. Rabies is one of them, but luckily for us it has a rather clunky delivery system:
"The human rabies virus lives in a symbiotic cycle with bats, from which it is capable of infecting a wide variety of mammals, particularly foxes, coyotes, jackals, and rodents...The virus is programmed to infect the brain centers in the animal that induce uncontrollable rage, while also replicating in the salivary glands to best spread the contagion through the provoked frenzy of biting."
(The bad news is that out of the 5,000+ species of mammals on our planet, a thousand species are bats, and over two thousand species are rodents.)
Another almost uniformly fatal virus with a relatively inefficient delivery system is HIV-1.
Dr. Ryan asks the question, "Could such lethal agents [HIV-1, Ebola, rabies] ever take the second step, and become sufficiently contagious to infect all or virtually all of the human species?...the only route of contagion likely to prove universally threatening to humanity would be person-to-person spread by the respiratory route."
According to Dr.
Read more ›
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
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
British science journalist and physician Frank Ryan covers a lot of ground in this extensively researched and engagingly written trek into the world of emerging viruses. These viruses, indigenous to disturbed areas of the world, particularly in the tropics, are now being sprung loose to threaten humankind.
The first third of the book covers the story of the "Four Corners" hantavirus that jumped from deer mice to humans with fatal effect in the southwestern United States in 1993. This is science journalism at its best.
In the next third of the book Ryan takes us to the jungles of Africa and traces the origin and effect of the horrendously brutal Ebola virus. Again he tells an engaging story with a pictorial vividness. One is amazed at the courage and dedication of the health care workers and medical scientists who risked their lives to treat the sick and dying and to find the source of the deadly disease.
At the beginning of the last third of the book, Ryan reprises what we know about HIV, its origins, its spread, the political and social stupidities involved in its spread, and the prospects for combating this terror. Again he makes the personalities and the nature of their work come to life. Then beginning with "Chapter Sixteen: The Aggressive Symbiont," Dr. Ryan discusses in general and theoretically the evolutionary nature of viruses, where they came from, why they exist and what we can expect from them in the future. Most pointedly he explores the possibility of a doomsday virus that is simultaneously as easily spread as influenza and as deadly as Ebola.
In a sense this part of the book, originally published in 1996, predicts the SARS outbreak, but does not stop there.
Read more ›
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
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. Blackmore on February 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
As someone only peripherally involved with epidemiology and public health, I found Ryan's book an entirely fascinating read, and nowhere near as sensationalist as the title might have implied. Not only for its suspenseful chronology of how the courage and tenacity of epi researchers has us closer to understanding these natural threats, but also for the countless "aha" moments it offers on how viruses actually live and work.
Ryan strikes a good balance between readability and credibility, using both layman's terms and (as far as I can tell with the help of the MD/epidemiologist in the family) accurate use of the appropriate lingo for his subject matter.
Basing his narrative on actual outbreaks of different types has helped Ryan create easily accessible self-contained sections that make the book an easy bedsider.
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
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Laura Matheny on August 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a teacher who has a strange fascination with viruses, I use my summer to catch up on the latest books. While this book was in part a review of information presented in much more detail elsewhere (the endnotes are thorough with sources), the author's theory was new to me and kept me thinking for weeks. Even if you are quite familiar with the viruses discussed, I encourage you to read Dr. Ryan's conclusions.
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
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
to the world of emerging infectious diseases, and epidemic research. However, much of the information he presents can be found in other books considered "MUSTS" in public health or epi bookcases, for example "The Coming Plague" by Laurie Garrett. If you're curious, or just want a comprehensive but general look into the world of emerging infectious diseases, this is the book for you.
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