The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age Paperback – 27 Oct 2011
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Personally, I was looking for a basic introduction to the subject of virology and an equally basic understanding of where we stand today in terms of recognition, treatment and prevention of epidemics. I think the book did an admirable job in this regard. Nor am I particularly bothered about the book's lack of literary flair. When it comes to non-fiction of this type, I want the facts, stated in terms I can understand, and presented by someone with experience in the field. On these accounts, the book also delivers.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book - once you start reading you find it difficult to put down.Published 22 months ago by G.G.Lambourne
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.
5 stars because its gripping- and real!
Liked the adventure
Recommend to all who like a real medical adventure !
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... Read more
An excellent review of the current knowledge of virology and how the risks of global viral pandemics are being tackled.Published on 2 Jan. 2013 by Brian Coles