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The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A New York Times bestseller The definitive account of the infectious diseases threatening humanity by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Laurie Garrett "Prodigiously researched . . . A... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Coming Plague

This is a timely book filled with tons of information. I read it and passed it on to another.

One Word: Scary!

Scares me more than any terrorist, earthquake, comet or meteor from space ever could! As a med student and son and nephew of military doctors this book frightens me much more than my uncle's stories of Viet Nam casualties, or my father's dealings with injury victims in a big city hospital. The Coming Plague deals with our inability to truly comprehend a global disater out there just waiting to strike. With recent occurences such as Marburg's grip in Africa as well as SARS, AIDS continued spread, and Bird Flu in Asia, ordinary citizens and especially governments around the world had better wake up ... Seems that isn't happening. Even the CDC and WHO according to some of the early pioneers in the fight against infectious disease, are today filled with pencil pushers, bureaucrats and people that have no field experience. They have lost touch with the real world of microbes. Compare them to generals that have never been in any real combat abroad, but are commanding troops. This sobering book reveals that with all of our scientific knowledge and skill, we are not ready for a pandemic in the 21st century. That no we cannot totally fend off every serious microbe that comes our way, but that we'd better be prepared! Suspenseful, heroic, mysterious, unsettling and painfully sad at times, this book is very difficult to put down. The Bible of infectious diease. Full of astounding information. It is a must read for anyone curious about this monumentally important subject.

Advantage: Microbe

"The Coming Plague" is 620 pages of densely-packed text on humanity's war against its deadliest enemies. Throughout the twentieth century and into the new millenium, we've given our microscopic enemies glorious new opportunities to exploit us, whether it be through war, slash-and-burn agriculture, or stagnant water in an air-conditioning system. Laurie Garrett has written a fascinating and frightening account of some of the battles we almost won (measles and polio) and some where we appear to be in full retreat (AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis). Her book is especially compulsive reading when she describes the individual skirmishes in the war, e.g. a journey into the African bush to identify and treat a disease that was killing 80% of its victims, or the discovery that cholera vibrio could live inside of algae and didn't require person-to-person transmission. Even if you live in the middle of the Canadian tundra and have sworn off eating mollusks for the rest of your life, this book hammers home the fact that you're still not safe from what used to be called 'Third World diseases'. Even as I write this review, there is a woman in an isolation chamber of a hospital in Hampton, Ontario who is gravely ill with an unknown hemorrhagic fever. The doctors don't think its Ebola Fever, but they're not sure what it is, or whether any of the other passengers on the plane from Nigeria to Canada could also have been infected.You can conclude (as I did) from "The Coming Plague" that many of us who expected to die from age-related conditions such as heart failure or cancer, may now well perish from infection. This book manages to combine the heroics of "Men against Death", the grim prophecy of "Silent Spring", and descriptions of several hair-raising, near-tragedies akin to the "Hot Zone". I highly recommend it.

Critically Important Book On Emerging Public Health Issues

With recent news blurbs concerning the possible threat from strains of the West Nile virus in the northeastern part of the country this summer, the urgent importance of this book is quietly being reinforced. This important effort by journalist Laurie Garrett is a whopper; a long, carefully documented and quite readable text giving an overview of the worldwide efforts of the "insect fighters' at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the U.S. Public Health Service and other agencies ranging from the U.N to state, university and local agencies to combat a panoply of both new biological agents like HIV, Ebola, and the West Nile virus as well as new and much more virulent and drug-resistant strains of old enemies like tuberculosis, bubonic plague, a number of venereal diseases, and complex new public health concerns like Toxic Shock Syndrome. Ms Garrett's highly detailed and exhaustively documented thesis, written while on a graduate fellowship at Harvard, is both frightening and hard to ignore. She posits that through our environmental arrogance and stupidity, the general medical strategies of the western societies, and our consistent overuse of antibiotics, we are quickly losing the continuing fight to keep the general public of both the postindustrial nations and the less developed world safe from the wild panoply of microbiological agents that are out there in the environment, and we are, through our encroachment on wilderness areas never before populated by humans, unnecessarily introducing segments of the population to new microbiological agents who then find a vector or path into human habitation and resultant infection. Moreover, the increasing levels of world commerce and concomitant travel among the nations of the world mean that someone infected in the jungles of South America or equatorial Africa can be in a restaurant in New York City or at the beach on Martha's Vineyard several days later as the agent starts its formidable and often highly contagious microbiological attack. This is truly scary stuff.One becomes increasingly concerned about the safety of the general public and for our relative lack of public health preparedness as one winds through the pages of this long book. The approach is one of individual story telling, and while this makes the book much more readable and entertaining, it also tends to repeat a lot of information that one could otherwise avoid. Yet this is truly a minor quibble with a facintaing and fact-packed book that often made me feel like I was taking a graduate seminar in "Current Issues in Infectious Epidemiology". It's tone is both approachable and yet scholarly, a rare treat to enjoy, and Ms Garrett's obvious intelligence and ability to communicate shines here, as she makes complex environmental, infectious disease, and human issues converge in an understandable and compelling way. Finally, she makes an excellent case for increased public awareness as well as immediat
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