Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2014
I have a weird interest in reading about diseases, and this book is one of the very best in the genre. Quammen writes for National Geographic, and he goes *everywhere.* If there was a disease outbreak in the Central African Republic in 1987, chances are, he has interviewed the doctor who first spotted the disease, the locals whose family members died, and the BSL-4 researchers in Virginia who analyzed it, and he probably also climbed down into a cave where the bat that spreads the disease roosts. This book is better than The Hot Zone. It dispels some of the over-blown language used in that book (people do not dissolve inside from Ebola.) and it is arguably just better writing.

Quammen keeps the balance between travel and adventure writing on the one hand, personal interviews (of the "His desk is piled high with papers, and he's wearing blue corduroy slacks and a black turtleneck and wire-rim glasses" type), and real science writing. You learn a lot about diseases from the microscopic level to the human story of what it's like to have the disease, to the incredible courage and dedication of the people who fight the diseases, whether in the clinic or in the lab.

Realistically, most of us are at essentially zero risk of dying of Ebola, but Quammen balances that with insight into things that might really harm us--SARS, AIDS, and the good old flu, which could still come roaring back as a killer.

I was sorry when it ended.
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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
867 customer ratings