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The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett

The Coming Plague (1994)

by Laurie Garrett

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1,347218,740 (4.14)43
Recently added bykamills2, Floyd3345, rahkan, KayeSteedman, Janetly, alliscat, pizzadj2, liz.mabry, oghowell, private library
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Interesting perspective on virulent bacteria and viruses
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Exciting, comprehensive, and in-depth look at every major epidemic humanity has faced in modern times, with a focus on the 20th century (up to when the book was published in 1994). In each case, Garrett goes over who sounded the alarm bell, personal cases of victims, how the disease spread, what the local and global response was, the aftermath, the death toll and its consequences, and its comparison to other epidemics. By reading a large picture comparison instead of single incidents, I feel like I have a better view on infectious diseases and their effect on humanity--and how prepared, or unprepared, the world population is for future epidemics. Fascinating. ( )
  Abby_Goldsmith | Feb 10, 2016 |
Despite the scaremongering title, this is an interesting and level take on emerging epidemics, primarily focused on past epidemics and their history/epidemiology. ( )
  kutsuwamushi | Jan 16, 2016 |
I've been working on this doorstopper for the better part of a year, I think. But totally worth the ride.

In successive chapters, Garrett describes in sometimes novelistic detail the various fights humans and microbes have been fighting, mainly in the second half of the 20th century. Starting with an outbreak of hemorragic fever in Bolivia in 1962, tracking our struggles through Marburg virus, yellow fever, meningitis, Legionaire's disease, Lassa fever and then Ebola - in 1976! - (and that only gets us to page 100), she meticulously details the personalities, difficulties, and outcomes of wave after wave of new or newly virulent disease in our time. Inevitably, the story gets out of Africa and South America and the Third world in general, and leads back to North America, hanta virus and AIDS.

But more than just report on this destruction, she tracks origins, causes, how our own hand works against our own survival. As we travel more, destroy more, warm our planet more, build antibiotic resistance more, mix genetic material more either deliberately or accidentally, the microscopic enemies of our lives get smarter, stronger, almost more knowing, and get under our defenses again and again.

I love reading about medicine, but after the heroic tales petered out and the science of mutations became the story, this book made me extremely uneasy. Talk of vectors and reservoirs doesn't disguise the fact that the world is getting ever more dangerous as we change it.

The 'trade paperback' clocks in at 622 pages before the index and the 100 pages of footnotes and references. Fascinating, scary, and now 20 years old - and still happening. ( )
  ffortsa | Apr 15, 2015 |
Details the current state of affairs in mankind's endless war against disease. Notable not only for the heroes (the 'disease cowboys' who go out and get the necessary details when a strange new disease appears) but the numerous failures of health organizations in reacting to potential threats. Definitely explains the difference between doctors (who are front-line soldiers in this war) and health professionals (who are the strategists and logistics people). A frighteningly informative read. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Apr 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
It might seem churlish to complain about a book's thoroughness (especially a 750-page tome that was composed in longhand because the author, as she tells us in her acknowledgments, suffers from an occupational injury that prevents the use of a keyboard). Still, "The Coming Plague" covers an awful lot of ground, way too much for the casual reader. The obsession with detail -- dozens of bugs, hundreds of scientists and, by my count, 1,348 footnotes -- is as huge as Ms. Garrett's energy and enterprise. Her journalistic instincts are excellent. She cites the key articles, talks to the right researchers, focuses on the crucial scientific issues. Unfortunately, the book's flaws are huge, too.
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To the people of Bukoba, Lasaka, Dar es Salaam, and dozens of other African locales who so generously over the years have shared their lives and wisdom with an inquiring white Western woman. Consider this a down payment on an enormous debt.

Africa: Asante sana, Mwalimu.
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By the time my Uncle Bernard started his medical studies at the University of Chicago in 1932 he had already witnessed the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140250913, Paperback)

Where's your next disease coming from? From anywhere in the world--from overflowing sewage in Cairo, from a war zone in Rwanda, from an energy-efficient office building in California, from a pig farm in China or North Carolina. "Preparedness demands understanding," writes Pulitzer-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, and in this precursor to Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, she shows a clear understanding of the patterns lying beneath the new diseases in the headlines (AIDS, Lyme) and the old ones resurgent (tuberculosis, cholera). As the human population explodes, ecologies collapse and simplify, and disease organisms move into the gaps. As globalization continues, diseases can move from one country to another as fast as an airplane can fly.

While the human race battles itself ... the advantage moves to the microbes' court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn how to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities.

Her picture is not entirely bleak. Epidemics grow when a disease outbreak is amplified--by contaminated water supplies, by shared needles, by recirculated air, by prostitution. And controlling the amplifiers of disease is within our power; it's a matter of money, people, and will. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Unpurified drinking water. Improper use of antibiotics. Local warfare. Massive refugee migration. Changing social and environmental conditions around the world have fostered the spread of new and potentially devastating viruses and diseases -- HIV, Lassa, Ebola, and others. Laurie Garrett takes you on a fifty-year journey through the world's battles with microbes and examines the worldwide conditions that have culminated in recurrent outbreaks of newly discovered diseases, epidemics of diseases migrating to new areas, and mutated old diseases that are no longer curable. She argues that it is not too late to take action to prevent the further onslaught of viruses and microbes, and offers possible solutions for a healthier future.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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