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Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012)

by David Quammen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8073019,508 (4.29)81
A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.
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The book in and itself would be between 2.5 and 3*

The writing is long-winded and here and there is inclining toward gossip and fiction more than science reporting

On the narrative/writing style, it was better "Congo" by Crichton (the book often make you think to that predecessor).

Nonetheless, it is informative- and gets a 3.5* mainly because... for reasons unknown, instead of sharing as a reference other books that discussed the transition from bats to humans of viruses, this book generated more interviews with the author.

In Italy, it resulted also in a new edition of the book (I read the English version).

Anyway, if you liked "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Diamond, probably this book (albeit also in this case I liked more Diamond's writing style) could add some few ideas and points.

Beside the obvious reason for reading the book now (COVID-19), it is interesting to read it also as a framework of ecological systemic thinking.

So, forgetting that it is about viruses and their cross-species lifecycle, it could be useful for other purposes and conceptual analyses

Therefore, if boring at times, worth reading

[Review released on 2020-06-06] ( )
  aleph123 | Jun 6, 2020 |
Great book. Very informative. Lots of story-telling which helped make it more interesting, but also made it rather long. A bit too long - especially when the story-telling became a fictional story about the genisis of HIV in humans. Overall, though; very good and worth reading. ( )
  jvgravy | May 31, 2020 |
This is a good explanation of how viruses move from animals to humans. The stories of how past spillovers have been detected and researched make it easier to understand the current case.

Although the subject is a scary one, Quammen isn't out to add to our fears. He stays with the facts, and by explaining them, makes things less scary.

"Yes, we are all gonna die. Yes. We are all gonna pay taxes and we are all gonna die. Most of us, though, will probably die of something more mundane than a new virus. "

And there are scientists out there trying to find the Next Big One while it is still small. ( )
1 vote MarthaJeanne | May 15, 2020 |
When I started to read the book, I noticed that it has 115 chapters, and I thought I would die.

The book, however, is more exciting than many murder thrillers. David Quammen possesses a unique gift. He has taken a subject that can drown you with technical detail, or terrify you, and convert it into a book that enthralls the reader.

The stories are fascinating. So is the science in the book. I am not an expert in this field, but I came away with a fair understanding of how viruses and other microscopic entities can wreak havoc.

There is a fair warning that he leaves for us. We, humans, have multiplied: we are an outbreak. We have interfered with the natural order of the world. It is fair to assume that we may be visited by epidemics and pandemics more frequently in the future.

It appears that we will be playing catch up with the everchanging world of viruses and their ilk. ( )
  RajivC | Apr 27, 2020 |
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic is a brilliantly written book exploring various infectious diseases, many of them zoonoses, such as Hendra, Ebola, Marburg, Malaria, SARS, HIV etc. The author explores the origin, transmission, spread and effects of these diseases on human and animal populations. The book is not filled with scientific jargon, but is also not so simplified that it becomes useless. The personable writing style makes a scientific subject like this exciting and interesting, instead of boring. An excellent book which should be read by everyone.

( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
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Human beings are restless, nosey and aggressive. These characteristics have made us one of the most invasive species our planet has ever encountered and allowed us to colonise nearly every terrestrial environment. During this progress, humans have made many acquisitions, several of them unwanted. Our constant movement between vast, populous cities and novel environments makes us easy prey for opportunistic pathogens that replicate fast, and transmit by sneezes and dirty hands before sickness even begins to show. These pathogens can spread around the world in hours by aeroplane to infect the unsuspecting on another continent. That's how "swine flu" spread in 2009; it was already unstoppable by the time we noticed it. We were lucky it wasn't particularly virulent.....
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Caroline Ash (Oct 11, 2012)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Quammenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gillam, DaphneMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, ChipCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
again and ever,
to Betsy
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The virus now known as Hendra wasn't the first of the scary new bugs.
So they ask: "Are we all gonna die." I have made it my little policy to say yes.
Yes, we are all gonna die. Yes. We are all gonna pay taxes and we are all gonna die. Most of us, though, will probably die of something more mundane than a new virus lately emerged from a duck or a chimpanzee or a bat.
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A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.

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