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I binge-listened to this book, because I couldn't stop. I had heard the author interviewed on NPR and was interested. The story is very informative, but entertaining.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I find predators fascinating. Especially those predators that eat us from the inside, which is the topic of this book. I had hoped for more of what I got when I read David Quammen’s excellent book “Spillover” which focuses on microorganisms that jump from one species to humans. Such zoonoses tend to be especially difficult to eradicate because even if we manage to eliminate the disease in humans, it can jump over again from the reservoir. This book, unfortunately, did not reach the same level as Spillover, far from it actually. It was informative, but I never felt very excited when I picked up the book. It was more like listening to a mediocre university teacher. It felt a bit flat and encyclopedic, and it lacked a clear narrative.
The book describes some past and present pandemics, including HIV, SARS, Ebola and influenza. However, the author keeps returning to is Cholera. Why is Cholera interesting you may ask? Because it is a pandemic that has gone endemic, meaning it is constantly present in the human population and health organisations have, to some extent, stopped trying to eradicate it. This is despite the fact that, without medication (clean water), there is a 50/50 chance of being killed by Cholera. This puts Cholera on par with Ebola. Indeed, the message that the author tries to convey is that when we think of future pandemics we should think Cholera, not Ebola. The big killers in the world today are the pandemics that go “under the radar” - like Cholera but also influenza. I think that this was a valid and important point, and there is already one clear candidate for what might be the future Cholera, namely MRSA (bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics).
So all in all, there is definitively some interesting information in this book, and it does reach some interesting conclusions. But unfortunately, the book is not well organized, and the writing is not very engaging. Simply put, there are better alternatives.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful