The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris

Norton. Apr. 2019. 464p. ISBN 9780393254754. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393254761. MED
The past 100 years has seen significant advances in medicine, but diseases maintain their frightening power as scientists fight microscopic menaces to contain the next pandemic. Medical historian and City University, London, lecturer Honigsbaum (The Fever Trail) tracks influenza, parrot fever, bubonic plague, legionnaires' disease, AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and Zika to expose how they become global threats. Stories cover how dedicated epidemiologists and disease investigators followed clues to discover: Was the parakeet the killer? Where did AIDS really come from and why are diseases that were relegated to distant, isolated areas now rampaging through urban centers? Why are bacteria and viruses once benign now deadly? The answers are complicated by governments that downplay the severity of epidemics to protect businesses that reject change and whose activities spread disease, cultural norms that increase the risk of infection, and most disturbing, the innocent carrier who boards a plane or enters a hotel room and starts a pandemic.
VERDICT Readers of Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague will enjoy this up-to-date look at disease that engagingly balances science with politics and culture. A solid read for anyone interested in medicine or even a good mystery. [See Prepub Alert, 10/29/18.]
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