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The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age Paperback – 27 Oct 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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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: 15.3 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 879,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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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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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Format: Paperback
It's a little sad to see people who "know" about this subject bashing the book for not telling them anything new. The author is quite clear about the intended audience, and it certainly isn't them.

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.
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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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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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Format: Paperback
A highly engaging book written by a skilled and informed author who writes in a clean and lucid way, illustrating his points with a reasoned authority that keeps you thinking and looking into them long after you've put the book down. He touches on a number of deeply fascinating areas in this book without having to stoop to sensationalism or distortion to make his point. I honestly came away from this looking at viruses in a whole new way.
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Quite terrifying if you believe only half of it. Mankind is busy destroying himself with all kinds of vile toxins in our food, and reducing our resistance at the same time to various infections and bacteria
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I came across this book after watching a programme on it. He is the consultant behind Contagion starring Keanu Reeves. It is very easy to read, there is no need to have a Microbiology Degree to understand it just sheer curiosity. Well worth a look, just appreciate the scale of challenge his team and others like it face.
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