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Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's…

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Bill Wasik

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5543433,493 (3.63)47
Charts the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies, documenting how before its vaccine the disease caused fatal brain infections and sparked the creations of monsters, including werewolves, vampires and zombies.
Title:Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
Authors:Bill Wasik
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik (2012)


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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Good, but not great. ( )
  Drunken-Otter | Aug 20, 2021 |
Interesting look at the history of rabies that touches on other diseases that come from animals. Rabies may be the origin of werewolf and vampire stories. Kind of dry in parts, but I think that's not uncommon in such a book.

I listened to the audiobook, and the audio quality in the last couple of parts was a bit dodgy. The sound quality would fluctuate, making it obvious where cuts and edits were done. At least, that's what I'm assuming the difference was. ( )
  ssperson | Apr 3, 2021 |
Fascinating topic - but meh in the telling. I listened to this as an audiobook - the reader has a William Shatner-esque pause. The first half was a steady uphill slog. I found myself skimming just to get through it. The second half was better and it picked up as it moved along, but it was never so gripping that I could hear the Star Trek fight song in my head as I listened to the book. And it should have been gripping. It's the world's most deadly virus! I'd give it another half star if I could, but I can't - so three it is. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
A surprisingly enthralling book on the history of rabies and the search for its cure. A lot of science, but not too much unfamiliar verbiage, etc. Just a fascinating story about an unlikely subject. ( )
  Poopy | Apr 8, 2020 |

Rabies is apparently the most fatal virus known to science. It is a disease that is transmitted to humans from another species (such as dogs and bats), usually by a bite from an infected animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. For a human, rabies is almost 100% fatal if postexposure vaccines are not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms.

This book is literally a cultural history of rabies, spanning the last 4000 or so years of history, including anything from Homer's epics, cultural myths, zombies, vampires, werewolves, literature (both pulp fiction and the classics), movies, "causes and cures" as described by ancient philosophers and physicians, and some science. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the relationships between man and his dogs. The book contains a great deal of "cultural history", quite often of subjects only vaguely related to rabies, e.g. the 23 pages that summarize various vampire and werewolf novelizations and the 3 pages describing the life of Saint Hubert. I got the impression that the authors couldn't find enough information to write about rabies, so had to look for vaguely related material to add.

While having a great deal of information on the cultural aspects of rabies, I felt the book was lacking in the science section. I would have preferred more science and less rambling about Saint Hubert, vampires and werewolves. That said, the last third of the book that concentrated on developing a rabies vaccine, the possible methods to help those infected with the disease and the measures implemented in Bali to fight the disease, was rather interesting.

NOTE: This book is not for the squeamish or overly sensitive readers. Rabies "control" methods are often not very pleasant or good for the dogs involved.

( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Wasikprimary authorall editionscalculated
Murphy, Monicamain authorall editionsconfirmed
Heller, JohnnyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For our "creatures" - Emmett and Mia
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Ours is a domesticated age.
For more than a week, Achilles sulks while the Trojan War carries on without him.
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Charts the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies, documenting how before its vaccine the disease caused fatal brain infections and sparked the creations of monsters, including werewolves, vampires and zombies.

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Haiku summary
Rabid bites meant death
Until heroic people
Made discoveries

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