Synopses & Reviews
The emergence of strange new diseases is a frightening problem that seems to be getting worse. In this age of speedy travel, it threatens a worldwide pandemic. We hear news reports of Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and something called Hendra killing horses and people in Australia — but those reports miss the big truth that such phenomena are part of a single pattern. The bugs that transmit these diseases share one thing: they originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. David Quammen tracks this subject around the world. He recounts adventures in the field — netting bats in China, trapping monkeys in Bangladesh, stalking gorillas in the Congo — with the world's leading disease scientists. In Spillover Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge, and he asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?
"Quammen (The Song of the Dodo) is a masterful writer who adroitly blends science and journalism, speculation and fact, as well as horror and humor in his latest tour de force. He traverses the globe exploring cases in which animal-borne diseases somehow jump to humans, often with devastating consequences. This cross-species transmission of disease the 'spillover' of the book's title has happened for the 200,000 years modern humans have been present on the earth, but the frequency and consequences of such events have been increasing dramatically in recent years. According to Quammen, diseases of this sort are responsible for 'the death of more than 29 million people since 1981.' And, as he explains so well, these diseases 'represent the unintended results of things we are doing.' Environmental destruction, burgeoning human populations, increased mobility, and extremely different patterns of food production are all part of his story. Quammen is adept at describing the epidemiology, anthropology, and molecular biology of SARS, AIDS, Ebola, and a host of other frightening maladies. His profiles of researchers, both in the lab and in the field, are every bit as compelling as are his descriptions of those unlucky enough to catch one of these dreadful diseases. This is a frightening but critically important book for anyone interested in learning about the prospects of the world's next major pandemic. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.
About the Author
David Quammen is the author of The Song of the Dodo, among other books. He has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is the recipient of a John Burroughs Medal and the National Magazine Award. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.