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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 28 June 1998
Having worked with and met several of the scientists portrayed in this book, I have to say that it is the best recount of scientific endeavor I have ever read. It is a sober and cogent account of what any doctor worth the paper their degree is printed on knows--viruses and bugs mutate, and there is always a lag time between what we fall prey to and what we can cure. Her accounts of African plagues and domestic epidemics are both history and warning, and we should put aside labels like "liberal" and "anti-male" (the one irrelevant and the other ridiculous) to focus on the frightening prospect of a new black death, or a mutated HIV virus that spreads by airborne pathogen. It is absolutely possible, and no one should pass up the chance to read this book and inform themselves of the risks they and their children face.
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on 10 October 1997
Laurie Garrett has penned a striking compilation of just a few of the incredible number of infectious diseases that stand at the ready to strike down humankind the moment that we let our guard down. Earlier this century, medicine and science declared the infectious diseases beaten and abandoned work on them in favor of chronic conditions such as cancer. As a result, we now have the AIDS pandemic, hemmorhagic fever diseases throughout the world, etc. Ms. Garrett sounds a warning that can be understand and heeded by both the layman and the trained scientist. I credit her with my decision to pursue a career in public health.
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on 7 March 1999
I stumbled upon this book while buying books for my biochemist studies. After finishing this book I had to look on my studies from a whole new perspective. Garrett confirms the worst fears I had about this worlds dealing with diseases, presented like short stories and intelligent points. Read it, be scared, but also a whole lot wiser!
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on 6 June 2001
I hold this book solely responsible for the fact I'm now doing a virology degree. It is well-researched, accesible, and painfully prophetic. If you have even a passing interest in medicine, you should read this.
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on 5 February 2013
Could do with an update - finishes in the middle of the 1990s and I'm sure that there are a lot more nasty things that could be reported on, which would at least give my nightmares some much needed variety.
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Laurie Garret is an excellent writer, who can mix scientific facts and captivating storylines with remarkable skill. In spite of lot of scientific information her books reads almost like thrillers. Very fascinating reading indeed! I previously read her Betrayal of trust and very much liked it. Highly recommend both books !
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on 5 September 2013
It could well be due with a serious update by now, but, having read this book when it was first released back then in the nineties, it carries the same amount of shock tactic that I remember so well. It may well be a trifle deep for some, maybe a trifle out of date today yet, it has a great deal of information that more people should know about. It can be alright to be a metaphorical ostrich, but reality is here and it is not going away. By knowing something about what can kill you so easily may potentially help cut down the risk.
I had to buy this copy because of my original thoughts on the book just would not go away, scary stuff, true stuff all written by noted experts in the various fields. It debunks myths, finds reasons, symptoms, cures or not, all packed in here..... can you tell me anything about Avian Flu, Ebola, Lhassa Fever, HIV and so on, this book will tell you and more, much more... !!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 November 2014
This purchase is a replacement for a lost copy. Very happy to have it back in the home library - particularly now.

Written in 1994, the book is simultaneously chillingly prophetic and current. The first time I read it I was living in Central America and that first reading, I firmly believe, saved my life when a year later I contracted Dengue Fever from a mosquito bite. Because of what I read in The Coming Plague, when I became unwell (during a visit to the US from where I lived at the time in Guatemala) I had an idea of what was wrong and was able to insist to the ER staff that they telephone the CDC for assistance.

Owing to that made telephone call the hospital knew to use the St Louis Encephalitis test, the only test for Dengue at the time (a positive+travel history=diagnosis and led to proper treatment). I was given the best treatment available for the time because they knew what I had, and my bout with Dengue progressed only to the second stage.

Since that first reading I've read this book three more times and plan to re-read this copy beginning this evening. It's not an easy book to read - every time I do, I have to take it in bites, one chapter (or half chapter) then a few days to get over the horror induced. The book examines what were then (and in some cases, now) newly emerging virulent diseases that are moving from 'Third World' to 'First' using case studies of outbreaks including outbreaks which occurred in the US (Hantaviruses, Legionnaires and Swine Flu in 1974-76), and concludes with a look at solutions including preparedness and surveillance.

All in, this book is can't miss reading for anyone interested in current affairs - many of the Third World emerging diseases are a consequence of geo-politics and the author doesn't shirk the responsibility to discuss these factors.
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on 16 September 2014
Rating first: Four and a half would have been a better rating, I don't love it, but certainly more that just 'like it'.

I bought this book for my wife while she was finishing her Med School training. She had a stint in southern Africa and came back with tales of a nasty disease, which had, relatively recently, killed a number of people in Gabon and South Africa. Not being medically trained, I wanted to find out more for myself. This book was recommended to me and I dived in. It's fascinating and very well written.

It's a weighty tome and anyone wishing to discover potential sources for the demise of humans, or simply with an interest in understanding complex conditions, will need to be dedicated. It's not a book to glance at every now and again. It's a thriller and one which is difficult to put down, however, I'd suggest one disease at a time. The rewards are well worth the effort; you will discover a new level of appreciation.

Today, it seems even more relevant than it did almost 20 years ago.
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on 24 February 2000
From the opening chapter this book takes you on a roller-coaster ride the leaves you frightened and exhilirated at the same time! Far more exciting than any fiction books, "The Coming Plague" is truely a magnificent piece of work. As a graduate in Medical Microbiology I found this book truely inspirational. It was after reading this book that I decided to persue a career in the study of exotic viruses. This is a book which is a must-read in my opinion!
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