- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143123572
- ISBN-13: 978-0143123576
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 189 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus Reprint Edition
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“A searing narrative.”
—The New York Times
“In this keen and exceptionally well-written book, rife with surprises, narrative suspense and a steady flow of expansive insights, ‘the world’s most diabolical virus’ conquers the unsuspecting reader’s imaginative nervous system. . . . A smart, unsettling, and strangely stirring piece of work.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Fascinating. . . . Wasik and Murphy chronicle more than two millennia of myths and discoveries about rabies and the animals that transmit it, including dogs, bats and raccoons.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Rabid delivers the drama of Louis Pasteur’s courageous work developing the rabies vaccine at the same time it details the disease’s place in our cultural history, taking us from Homer to the Bronte sisters to Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Matheson. . . . All along the book’s prose and pace shine—the book is as fast as the virus is slow.”
—The Seattle Times
“A very readable, fascinating account of a terrifying disease….Wasik and Murphy grippingly trace the cultural history of the disease. . . . Rabid reminds us that the disease is a chilling, persistent reminder of our own animal connections, and of the simple fact that humans don’t call all of the shots.”
—The Boston Globe
“Compelling. . . . Murphy and Wasik give life, context and understanding to the terrifying disease. Like the virus itself, this fascinating book moves quickly, exploring both the marginalized status and deadly nature of the virus. And as the authors trace the influence of rabies through history, Rabid becomes nearly impossible to put down.”
“An elegant exploration of the science behind one of the most horrible way to die.”
—Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail
“This book is not for the squeamish. Yet those who are fascinated by how viruses attack the body, by the history of vaccination and by physicians’ efforts to save the most desperately ill patients will want to read it. There is also a happy ending: scientists are working to harness rabies as a potent drug delivery vehicle.”
“[Wasik and Murphy] offer an in-depth look at a disease so insidious that it even turns our best friends—dogs—against us. The pair convincingly link the history of rabies…with the history of man’s fear of nature and the unknown, and our own latent capacity for beastliness.”
—The Daily Beast
“Thrilling, smart, and devilishly entertaining, Rabid is one of those books that changes your sense of history—and reminds us how much our human story has been shaped by the viruses that live among us.”
—Steven Johnson, author of The Ghost Map
“Rabies has always been as much metaphor as disease, making it an excellent subject for cultural history. . . . As Wasik and Murphy document . . . the horror of rabies has been with us since the beginning of human civilization.”
“Funny and spry. . . . It’s a rare pleasure to read a nonfiction book by authors who research like academics but write like journalists.”
—Alice Gregory, n+1
“Readable, fascinating, informative, and occasionally gruesome, this is highly recommended for anyone interested in medical history or the cultural history of disease.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Take Bill Wasik, one of our most perceptive journalistic storytellers, have him join forces with Monica Murphy, scholar of public health, and you end up with this erudite, true-life creep show of a book. It turns out that the rabies virus is a good bit more fascinating and at least as frightening as any of those blood-thirsty monsters that have stalked our fairy tales, multiplexes, and dreams.”
—Donovan Hohn, author of Moby Duck
“Ambitious and smart.”
“Terrible virus, fascinating history in Rabid.”
“As entertaining as they are on rabies in culture, the authors also eruditely report on medicine and public health issues through history, from ancient Assyria to Bali to Manhattan in the last five years, showing that while the disease may be contained, it may never be fully conquered. Surprisingly fun reading about a fascinating malady.”
“The ultimate weird dad book.”
—Very Short List
“The rabies virus is a microscopic particle of genes and proteins. And yet it has cast a fearful shadow over all of human history. Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have produced an eerily elegant meditation on disease and madness, dogs and vampires. It's as infectious as its subject.”
—Carl Zimmer, NPR contributor and author of Parasite Rex
“A fun read, rivaling a Stephen King novel for page-turning thrills.”
About the Author
Bill Wasik is a senior editor at Wired and was formerly a senior editor at Harper's. Monica Murphy, Wasik's wife, is a veterinarian. They live in Oakland, California.
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Having had past experience with a rabid raccoon who sat on my porch, and then threatened me when I went outside, I definitely wanted to read up on this particular 'monster'. I put this book Rabid on my 'wish' list probably two years ago. So I was thrilled to finally get it and read it. Even though this book was slow in areas where the authors went off on tangents that were remotely acquainted with the topic, the book did meet my own specifications for reading a book like this. It gave historical background, it discussed what the disease is, how it is caused, the background for the vaccine, interesting case studies that have occurred recently. For the most part, I thought the book was well-written.
This is still probably one of the most frightening diseases on the planet...even with Ebola out there. Though we can vaccinate to prevent the disease and have a way to help someone who has been bitten if we get to them early enough, people still die from this agonizing disease even in the United States. I think one of the most important parts of this book was the fact that we still have no good treatments for people who were bitten and didn't know they were exposed to rabies, and so they went for treatment too late. Just this section alone should be read by everyone...then it would impress on people how important it is to get your animals vaccinated, and how important it is to avoid contact with wildlife that may harbor the rabies virus. I think of how many times I've seen children go up and touch a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk...and if people read this chapter on this lack of treatment, they wouldn't let their child near something that is wild. (Besides, it isn't safe for the animals either...)
The book is also very light on the fascinating biology of the virus itself and how it enters neurons, replicates and propagates. It seems kind of ridiculous that there can be tens of pages on zombies and vampires and essentially nothing on the molecular machinery of the virus and its transmission through an infected organism. I realize that this isn't a book on rabies virology but it is a subject which I expected to be covered in detail rather than in passing.
While establishing a great hook for an introduction, the book dribbles into old historical accounts of dog domestication and examples of rabies in early writings. This may appeal to armchair anthropologist, but was a bit dry and long-winded in my opinion. From there the medical history of rabies is discovered for roughly the last half. This accounting and that of the development for the rabies vaccine were the highlight of the book.
The book suffered from some repetitiveness, especially in the anthropological interludes, and occasional discontinuity of thought that didn't seriously hinder the flow of the book.
I'm glad I read it, and will likely loan it to a friend, but I will likely never read it again. My advice to anyone who gets the book is to skip over sections that are tedious to read and get to the interesting parts of the book. It will likely not hurt your comprehension of the book.
It could be that rabies is the worst news ever. With it’s implications of hurting man’s best friend in a shattering way to the ultimate moments of symptoms in humans that lead to hydrophobia, rabies is anything but the Stanford Daily email digest.
This book provided amazing historical background to a deadly disease! Before this book, I really had no idea about the impact that rabies can have on different societies. Wasik does an amazing job at pulling together all of the different tales and case studies around rabies and creating a cohesive narrative of the rabies virus that spans back to the Greeks. However, even through his temporal progression, he manages to provide enough space for suspenseful moments and important topics like Pasteur’s creation of the rabies vaccine. Through his presentation of the clinical case and the attempt for treatment, he reminded me of problem-solving physician mindset, and allowed me to glimpse into the great mind of Dr. Willoughby. This book definitely reminded me of all the reasons behind my pursuit of medicine – from the public health, epidemiology, and clinical manifestations that rabies virus can have.