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The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age [Paperback]

Nathan D. Wolfe
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Price: 11.96 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

27 Oct 2011

Do you think you know all about the risk of a global pandemic? The threat could be far greater than we had ever imagined. In this important new book, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe examines the world of viruses and points the way forward, examining how new technologies can be brought to bear in the most remote areas of the world to neutralize these viruses and even harness their power for the good of humanity.

Wolfe's research missions to the jungles of Africa and the rain forests of Borneo have earned him the nickname 'the Indiana Jones of virus hunters', and here he takes readers along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and to explain the role that viruses have played in human evolution.

In The Viral Storm, Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic. His provocative vision of the future will change the way we think about viruses, and may even remove a potential threat to the survival of humanity itself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (27 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846142989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846142987
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 475,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The world's most prominent virus hunter ... Nathan Wolfe's life conforms more to the pattern of a nineteenth-century explorer than to that of a twenty-first-century biologist (New Yorker )

What sets Wolfe apart is his swashbuckling style - he chooses to do most of his work in the field - combined with a flair for communication and negotiation (Nature )

About the Author

Nathan Wolfe is the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University and Director of Global Viral Forecasting, a pandemic early warning system which monitors the spillover of novel infectious agents from animals into humans. Wolfe has been published in or profiled by Nature, Science, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, Wired, Discover, Scientific American, NPR, Popular Science, Seed, and Forbes. Wolfe was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship in 1997 and was awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) International Research Scientist Development Award in 1999 and the prestigious NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Looking for a virology primer? Look elsewhere. 9 July 2013
By Enzyme
Format:Kindle Edition
Had I any kind of gift for biology, I'd've wanted to become a virologist. Viruses are genuinely fascinating, for all kinds of reason. So I was quite looking forward to this - the promise of an accessible guide to the science was tempting.

However, this is really rather disappointing. For one thing, notwithstanding the title, viruses attract surprisingly little authorial attention; Wolfe obfuscates by talking about "microbes", a good many of which aren't viruses at all. At best, then, he's talking about epidemiology for the most part. Fine, but a touch misleading.

Worse, though, is the way that he so frequently falls into the trap of thinking that you can only write science for the layman if you dilute it with human interest stories. These get in the way - we get about 4 parts anecdote for every one part actual science, and that's simply not good enough. Even when he's ostensibly talking about science (and much of the time this amounts to self-ingratiating crap about his utterly wonderful colleagues), he's astonishingly trite. Chimpanzees don't share our dental hygeine standards! Proto-humans could cook, but it wasn't Michelin-star stuff! With insights like this, can a Nobel be far away?

Yes. Yes it can.

This might be the kind of thing that's required to keep American 16-year-olds happy, but it's really not good enough for anyone else. The more I read, the less I could help thinking of Lee and Herring's "When Things Get Knocked Over, Spill, or Fall Out of Cupboards" gag: this is a book by someone who desperately wants to be on the Discovery Channel, with slightly doomy music playing behind a very earnest but catatonically simple narration.

If you're an intelligent lay-reader who wants to learn something about virology, or even about epidemiology, there'd be worse places to start - "The Epic of Gilgamesh", or Derrida's "Writing and Difference" spring to mind - but there surely must be much better places, too.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A vision for the future 19 May 2014
By Del
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this, although it wasn't quite what I expected.
The examination of how pandemics occur, and how little stands between us and the next, was fascinating, and I applaud the author's vision of a future in which, by using modern technology and advanced disease surveillance in animals and humans, we are able to predict, and stop, such outbreaks before they take hold.
Surely that is something public health should be striving for!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellently informative 18 April 2013
By Mr. R. G. A. Thomas VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Absolutely chock full of new information. A page turner ... from the start it builds and keeps you going to find out the ultimate truth, the really important information about viruses and humans .... but in the end .... peters out.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting aspects 11 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book describes why and how pandemics can evolve and spread among animal and human populations.
It is easy to read and one doesn't need a large background to follow the author.
Unfortunately, I found some comments quite contradicting, e.g. the author talks about the threads of viruses intermingling in human bodies to create new, more dangerous variants, but seems to be quite happy about the use of "modified", "harmless" viruses in medicine. So only three stars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars be wary 16 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is a scary book, with respect of how thin the security lines are regarding being safe from global diseases.
do not read if you are of a nervous disposition.
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