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Patient Zero: A Brief History of the Science Stories Behind the World's Worst Diseases

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A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.  


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A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.  

30 review for Patient Zero: A Brief History of the Science Stories Behind the World's Worst Diseases

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Rupe

    I found this book to be extremely fascinating. Tons of interesting information regarding disease, the advancements in medicine, and how mankind has maneuvered pandemics and epidemics throughout history. Lots of cool things in here. My favorite was how they recreated the specific strain of the flu that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic to understand why it was so deadly.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Poptart19 (the name’s ren)

    4 stars A thoroughly enjoyable, visually appealing, & approachable tour through the history of several major infectious diseases affecting humans. I learned new things & found this book very interesting & easy to read. [What I liked:] •The pictures, graphics, and informative sidebars help break up the text into digestible chunks & provide appealing visual aids. The layout makes the book easy to read. •Reading about the 1900 Bubonic Plague outbreak in San Francisco reminded me so much of Covid-19: 4 stars A thoroughly enjoyable, visually appealing, & approachable tour through the history of several major infectious diseases affecting humans. I learned new things & found this book very interesting & easy to read. [What I liked:] •The pictures, graphics, and informative sidebars help break up the text into digestible chunks & provide appealing visual aids. The layout makes the book easy to read. •Reading about the 1900 Bubonic Plague outbreak in San Francisco reminded me so much of Covid-19: public health officials’ attempts to prevent the spread being hampered by politicians who denied the existence of a problem because of economic concerns, rampant racism, & intentional spread of disinformation. This book does a great job of addressing environmental, cultural, social, economic, & political factors that influence how infectious diseases are spread & managed. •This book covers a representative range of infectious diseases, including prions, viruses, parasites, & fungal & bacterial infections. There were ones I’ve read about in detail before like Yersinia Pestis & Ebola, & ones I wasn’t as familiar with like Legionnaires diseases, along with new (to me) information about the 1918 flu pandemic & rabies. I enjoyed the story-telling structure that shows how researchers & health officials go about identifying new pathogens & developing public health policy & treatments. •In addition to case studies of certain diseases, there are sections covering related topics like germ theory, autopsy, zoonoses, & vaccines. These are woven into the narrative to provide more insight as the topics come up. [What I didn’t like as much:] •I actually have no major complaints or critiques of this book! CW: discussions of racism, sexism, & classism; moderately graphic descriptions of diseases [I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I received a copy from Workman Publishing Company through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in reading about epidemics, then this is the book for you! Each short chapter presents a different disease and the epidemic that quickly followed their discoveries. While the true patient zero for any of the diseases are unknown, the patient zeroes presented here are people who are well-known to be early accidental spreaders of the disease they contracted. I picked up this boo I received a copy from Workman Publishing Company through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in reading about epidemics, then this is the book for you! Each short chapter presents a different disease and the epidemic that quickly followed their discoveries. While the true patient zero for any of the diseases are unknown, the patient zeroes presented here are people who are well-known to be early accidental spreaders of the disease they contracted. I picked up this book because I’m a huge fan of Lydia Kang. While I know this is non-fiction, I thought the concept was interesting, especially since we’re living through a pandemic. Each chapter covers a disease, where it likely originated from or how long it was around before it was first detected, who got it, how it spread, and what damage it caused. The book is also sprinkled with photographs and different facts related to epidemics that is related to the chapter they’re featured in. I have to say that it was interesting to learn that pandemics are usually handled pretty badly in varying degrees. I knew our species has a history of repeating ourselves, but it hits harder when you realize we’re repeating history yet again in real time. This was a very interesting read, and I’m looking forward to seeing more non-fiction books come from Lydia Kang.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    This was quite an interesting read! How a lot of diseases start, what caused them to spread. Especially how this book details COVID-19 coming from China, I thought that this was a fascinating read of world history and public health. Would recommend! 4.1/5

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Manaster

    Well written, comprehensive book. Easy to read but does not gloss over important information. Could be appreciated by interested high-schoolers and other non-scientific readers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Annetherese Biesiada

    Such an amazing book. This book is about the worlds worst diseases. The infection, the spread and the containment. It’s easy and entertaining to read. That said, yes it will make you cringe, want to check your vaccination records and send you reeling in fear from every cough, surface contact and open container of food to which you are exposed. Each chapter starts with an innocent idilic story. An Italian boy reclines under a tree in the country side and then fights off a mad dog which bites him Such an amazing book. This book is about the worlds worst diseases. The infection, the spread and the containment. It’s easy and entertaining to read. That said, yes it will make you cringe, want to check your vaccination records and send you reeling in fear from every cough, surface contact and open container of food to which you are exposed. Each chapter starts with an innocent idilic story. An Italian boy reclines under a tree in the country side and then fights off a mad dog which bites him leading to rabies…. You can’t stop reading as the scenario leads into gross details of the disease, the culprits, the history, the foolish cures and present day containment. So 60% of all the viruses and deadly diseases are a result of zoonoses, viruses spreading from animals to humans. From the dawn of time viruses have continually attempted to consume us. I’m not sure how I feel. Either the human race is amazingly resilient, or constantly losing the battles with determined microscopic organisms! The plaque is alive and well, TB Is still an available romantic way to die and leprosy is still an option. I’m amazed by the incredible minds that found cures, vaccines and methods to handle the various disease. Even more amazed by how scientist can trace and find the patient zero. Typhoid Mary and Gaetan Dugan, they found you! Learn how cannibalism works ( the delicacy of a body aging and ripening with maggots), how monks “cured” St. Anthony’s fire, how politics and religion used and manipulated outbreaks and viruses and all they ways societies used biological warfare. Be forewarned there are some crazy viruses out there. Legionaries disease, Ebola, leptospirosis, hantavirus, AIDs, etc. I think I have diagnosed myself with them all…

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angelica Maria Ayala

    Definitely a morbidly hilarious novel about many "not so funny" Patient Zeros. While reading, I was repeatedly drawn to the reoccurring "themes" hidden within the term Pandemic - ranging from your next door neighbor's to the POTUS at the time putting their two-cents in about why pandemics occur and who is to blame. But the quick-witted, through way the diseases are researched and explained by both Lydia Kang & Nate Pederson make this non-fiction book an easy read. And I am so glad that medicine Definitely a morbidly hilarious novel about many "not so funny" Patient Zeros. While reading, I was repeatedly drawn to the reoccurring "themes" hidden within the term Pandemic - ranging from your next door neighbor's to the POTUS at the time putting their two-cents in about why pandemics occur and who is to blame. But the quick-witted, through way the diseases are researched and explained by both Lydia Kang & Nate Pederson make this non-fiction book an easy read. And I am so glad that medicine has improved over time - I just couldn’t fathom taking a blood bath instead of my usual bubble bath! 😆 This is my 1st Non-Fiction read from Netgalley that I am reviewing and this is an easy 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Mellen

    Thanks to Netgalley and Workman Publishing Company for the ARC of this in exchange for my honest review. This was really interesting and easy to follow. There was a good number of relevant illustrations, a decent variety of illnesses discussed, and it had a very story like quality - we looked at the individuals and areas that an illness was being spread - it wasn’t dry or academic feeling, and I think anyone interested in infectious diseases and how they get started and spread, or just intereste Thanks to Netgalley and Workman Publishing Company for the ARC of this in exchange for my honest review. This was really interesting and easy to follow. There was a good number of relevant illustrations, a decent variety of illnesses discussed, and it had a very story like quality - we looked at the individuals and areas that an illness was being spread - it wasn’t dry or academic feeling, and I think anyone interested in infectious diseases and how they get started and spread, or just interested in history, could pick this up without much for knowledge and could follow along, pretty much at any age, even though it’s written to an adult audience.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin McMahon

    This is my favorite kind of book. Microhistories in a well-written and highly researched way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    It's good and interesting, but the topics jump around a LOT, which takes away from the narritive a bit for me. It's good and interesting, but the topics jump around a LOT, which takes away from the narritive a bit for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Chilton

    Such a timely and thought-provoking read from a 360-degree perspective. This should be required reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Bruning

    A fascinating history of the world’s worst diseases! The author covers the origin of each disease presented along with spread, impact, and containment and still keeps the information interesting. The focus is on breadth of infectious diseases rather than depth, which makes the book feel a bit like a manageable primer for the field.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    PATIENT ZERO: A BRIEF HISTORY of the SCIENCE STORIES BEHIND THE WORLD'S WORST DISEASES BY: LYDIA KANG AND NATE PEDERSEN This was a fascinating non-fictional treatise that chronicles how various diseases have been spread throughout the history of mankind. It opened my eyes to how Covid19 isn't the first time that pandemics have been spread throughout populations of people. I had previously heard about the Spanish flu back in 1918 that claimed a vast number of lives. In my mind that was the only dis PATIENT ZERO: A BRIEF HISTORY of the SCIENCE STORIES BEHIND THE WORLD'S WORST DISEASES BY: LYDIA KANG AND NATE PEDERSEN This was a fascinating non-fictional treatise that chronicles how various diseases have been spread throughout the history of mankind. It opened my eyes to how Covid19 isn't the first time that pandemics have been spread throughout populations of people. I had previously heard about the Spanish flu back in 1918 that claimed a vast number of lives. In my mind that was the only disease to spread and take as many lives as the present pandemic that we are all facing today. I was astonished to be reminded that throughout time immemorial other pandemics and epidemics have been spread throughout various geographical places and infected people and this Title called, "Patient Zero," is derived and got its meaning from the first person who contracted various diseases without the knowledge that they were spreading it and infecting other people. One such person mentioned that I think we all have heard of is Typhoid Mary. She might not have been the first person infected with it, but she had no symptoms or idea that she was responsible for infecting so many people. This was surely an eye opening reminder of how scary previously unknown diseases can infect one person throughout history and that person known as "Patient Zero," because that person is the first known individual that the identified disease can be traced back to can infect those who come in contact with him/her without anybody's knowledge that they are so contagious. I was reminded of the Ebola disease that was rampart in Zaire, Africa that happened during the 1970's, which I studied in my Pre-Medical Biology course during the early 1990's. I had forgotten about it and by reading about it here in this book it gave me a more in depth understanding of it. In my class we only briefly scratched the surface of Ebola and at that time Richard Preston wrote about it in his book called, "The Hot Zone," which was popular and I am confident that those who are the same age as I am are familiar with it. If you didn't read it I am sure you heard about it. It introduced me to the level four Bio Hazard being the highest level in the hierarchy of the most precaution taken to isolate and contain the study of it in air tight chambers with those epidemiologists and scientists who studied it. The Ebola virus if infected could cause the person to bleed from the eyes and every other opening of the body causing death. I remember the scientists who studied it had to suit up in hazmat suits that reminded me of the front line medical personal who also cared for Covid19 patients who were similarly dressed before the vaccines were available. Their have been many Plagues that have been deadly throughout history. This book covers the Science Stories behind the World's worst diseases in fascinating detail. It gives the first known person who contracted the disease at least as far as anybody knows and tells where that person lived. One interesting story was how infected Rye was responsible for when it was ground up into flour and baked into bread it gave people who ate the bread hallucinations in France after people enjoying a baguette. It later was discovered to be the originator of LSD. Other diseases covered are Smallpox, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis, HIV, Mad Cow Disease, Rabies, Polio, Cholera, Typhus, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, Measles, Leprosy, Syphilis, and many more. The book is divided into three main sections which are the following: Infection; Spread and Containment. This book was illuminating in its depictions of describing every disease, how it spread and it where its outbreak originated. It contained fabulous illustrations that added to its merits of the meticulous research that went in to describing the historical epidemics, pandemics, plagues and various other diseases throughout mankind. It was written so well and I appreciated how it is easily understandable to every audience to be able to comprehend the information regardless of whether you have a scientific background or not. In other words, this book is written in such a way that everybody can easily digest the information without prior knowledge of having been educated in science. It gives a vast amount of details in a concise presentation of every topic it covers so that it will appeal to anybody who is interested in the history of how almost every disease originated. You can easily grasp the subjects covered because it is introduced in such a way that it seems the intent of these two Authors' is for this book to be an educational resource. I do admit that it is scary in that it conveys how easy it is for pathological outbreaks to infect us not only in the past but in the present. We don't usually focus our attention on how animals in our every day environments can cause infectious diseases that are debilitating even with how far advanced we have become as a society in microbiology and medicine. I always have loved deer and enjoyed seeing them enter our surroundings for example my father's home and the house I grew up with was surrounded by six acres of woods that my dad owned. He had many offers to sell the land to developers who wanted to build homes because the town I grew up in was a desirable town with dwindling land as its population grew. One phrase my father always said to me was that you can't make anymore land. Once it is all used up it is gone. So he refused to sell it to contractors because he enjoyed nature and giving the animals their space. My Dad kept his word never to sell off his extra acreage as long as he lived. My brother didn't have the same appreciation of wildlife preservation and sold my Dad's house after he died. If the house was left to me, I would have kept it as it had been. Deer could be spotted entering our yard and we loved to see them. With deforestation happening it causes animals to not be able to thrive in their natural wooded areas. It wasn't until reading this book that I realized that the awe that I derived with the beauty of the deer being viewed also has its drawbacks. The Tics that the deer carried is something that I never associated with Lyme disease as I tried to feed them apples. In most cases one doesn't realize they have been bitten by a Tic until it has already infected them. Usually, in some cases before you realize you have one it is too late because their damage is flowing through your blood. If you get Lyme disease, I don't have to tell you how sick you become. Mosquitoes which I have always tried to avoid carry serious diseases sometimes. Of course, we all realize that these creatures of nature don't intentionally infect us by biting us but this book reminded me how serious and what a danger of being infected by a bite can be. We humans think that we are more important than these lesser evolved species are. But isn't it fascinating that as carrier's of some of these deadly diseases that the lesser evolved aren't affected in the same ways that we are. I was aware of all of this before, but this book has brought it to the forefront of my consciousness to be more vigilant and careful, now more than ever. I found reading "Patient Zero," to be a very enlightening reading experience and it has changed my viewpoints in many ways. It was an eye opening and educational experience that filled in the details of disease and its ways of infecting that gave me much to think about. I had heard of a lot of the the epidemics that took place before I was alive and also the ones that took place during my lifetime. This book was able to reveal to me the factual data about viruses and bacteria that continue to spread from animal to humans and I am grateful that I read this. I was amazed to learn more about most things that I had vaguely been aware of but now I have a much more in depth understanding of thanks to the easy to grasp way these two Authors' explained each illness and its origins. I plan on buying a physical copy when it soon publishes to be able to refer to whenever I want to refresh my mind on the massive amount of informative prevention it offers. I have read and loved all of these two Authors' previous work and would recommend that you look into them if you are interested in learning more in depth about the history and origins of a host of intriguing topics. These two Authors' certainly possess the gift of presenting factual data in such an interesting manner that never reads as dry or dense and hooks your attention. I really enjoy the collaboration of these two Authors' writing style and think that together they have that gift of writing to inform with a flair of educating in terms of making the subject so easy to understand. It's learning and having fun at the same time. This book in particular is very relevant to the present pandemic we are enduring. It offers great insight as to how some diseases mutate and are so hard to eradicate. It opened my eyes about the way other species are able to not be effected by the diseases that they transmit to humans. And you would be surprised to learn that pets such as dogs and cats can also contribute to unintentionally transmitting disease. I enjoyed this non-fictional Brief History of the Science Stories Behind the World's Worst Diseases called, "Patient Zero," and I highly recommend it! Publication Date: November 16, 2021 Thank you to Net Galley, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen and Workman Publishing for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. #PatientZero #LydiaKang #NatePedersen #WorkmanPublishing #NetGalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Huber

    This was an interesting book. It kind of covered a little bit of everything. A lot of cool facts for trivia buffs. Read my full review at Girl Who Reads. This was an interesting book. It kind of covered a little bit of everything. A lot of cool facts for trivia buffs. Read my full review at Girl Who Reads.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lizz Axnick

    THIS,.BOOK.IS.AWESOME. You do not have to be a medical professional to enjoy it. If you want to learn about previous epidemics and how they were (mis)handled, this is a great book. It's very easy to read and has a lot of good illustrations of viruses, depictions from history and other tidbits. I liked this book so much while I am grateful for my ARC, I plan to purchase it when it comes out. I am a nurse and some of the information contained in this book was old news to me, but I liked the way the THIS,.BOOK.IS.AWESOME. You do not have to be a medical professional to enjoy it. If you want to learn about previous epidemics and how they were (mis)handled, this is a great book. It's very easy to read and has a lot of good illustrations of viruses, depictions from history and other tidbits. I liked this book so much while I am grateful for my ARC, I plan to purchase it when it comes out. I am a nurse and some of the information contained in this book was old news to me, but I liked the way the authors talk about the patient Zero, the descriptions of the diseases, some of the history behind them and there is a chapter on the creation of various vaccines and another on biological warfare. I learned new medical information from this book. I really cannot recommend this enough if you have interest in epidemiology, work in the medical profession or just like to read books about things that can sometimes be gross (don't read the parasite chapter while eating unless you have a strong stomach). Medical and nursing students might find this particularly fascinating. I would give this 10 stars if I could.

  16. 5 out of 5

    =^.^= Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: August 19, 2021 Publication date: November 2, 2021 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. From the masters of storytelling-meets-science and co-authors of Quackery, Patient Zero tells the long and fascinating Date reviewed/posted: August 19, 2021 Publication date: November 2, 2021 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. From the masters of storytelling-meets-science and co-authors of Quackery, Patient Zero tells the long and fascinating history of disease outbreaks—how they start, how they spread, the science that lets us understand them, and how we race to destroy them before they destroy us. Written in the authors’ lively and accessible style, chapters include page-turning medical stories about a particular disease or virus—smallpox, Bubonic plague, polio, HIV—that combine “Patient Zero” narratives, or the human stories behind outbreaks, with historical examinations of missteps, milestones, scientific theories, and more. Learn the tragic stories of Patient Zeros throughout history, such as Mabalo Lokela, who contracted Ebola while on vacation in 1976, and the Lewis Baby on London’s Broad Street, the first to catch cholera in an 1854 outbreak that led to a major medical breakthrough. Interspersed are origin stories of a different sort—how a rye fungus in 1951 turned a small village in France into a phantasmagoric scene reminiscent of Burning Man. Plus the uneasy history of a human autopsy, how the HIV virus has been with us for at least a century, and more. I love Dr. Kang's books as she has a wonderful writing style and a definite sense of humour, despite the content of her books. This was a fascinating book to read as I remember the cholera outbreak on the TV show "Victoria" and the Burning Man reference made me snort coffee through my nose when I came upon it in the book. It was well written and will appeal to many kinds of readers: I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 💊💊💊💊💊

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leah M

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily. This was a fascinating look into the history of disease and how it is managed, as well as how these topics are handled today. While it could have been easy for this to get boring and dry, it never did. There was a lot of information presented, ranging from ancient times to present day, and all of it was presented logically and in terms that are easily understandable to the layperson. I wa Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily. This was a fascinating look into the history of disease and how it is managed, as well as how these topics are handled today. While it could have been easy for this to get boring and dry, it never did. There was a lot of information presented, ranging from ancient times to present day, and all of it was presented logically and in terms that are easily understandable to the layperson. I was so incredibly intrigued to learn about the history and patient zero analysis of various diseases, ranging from Hansen's disease (leprosy) to typhoid fever to typhus to smallpox to the Plague to Ebola to rabies and even COVID-19. I also enjoyed learning how people had tried to treat these illnesses throughout history, as well as how the medical field has eventually learned to control, manage, and in some fortunate cases, even wipe out a few of these diseases. There were many cases where historical medical knowledge and even the spread of diseases were sensitive topics, such as the spread of disease into the New World by Columbus and his men. I think the authors did a great job of portraying the situations in a sensitive manner, using facts that were as historically accurate as possible. The material was clearly well-researched, and presented in a linear and easy-to-understand manner. It touches on diseases from all over the world, where they come from, and how they've been treated, both ineffective and effective means. There's a lot of cool little tidbits relevant to the material thrown in as well, including famous people afflicted by the disease, current information or presentations, and random historical facts. Overall, it was a really cool and interesting book, and it was surprisingly interesting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Compulsively readable, fascinating and informative, Patient Zero answers all the questions you might have about diseases and even those you don’t know you have. Subtitled “A Curious History of the World’s Worst diseases” Patient Zero covers everything from Ebola to the Plague, Measles to Cholera, Covid-19 and more. The information is organized into three sections: Infection, Spread and Containment. Biological weapons are discussed as is the devastating effect that diseases carried by European ex Compulsively readable, fascinating and informative, Patient Zero answers all the questions you might have about diseases and even those you don’t know you have. Subtitled “A Curious History of the World’s Worst diseases” Patient Zero covers everything from Ebola to the Plague, Measles to Cholera, Covid-19 and more. The information is organized into three sections: Infection, Spread and Containment. Biological weapons are discussed as is the devastating effect that diseases carried by European explorers, including missionaries, had on the native populations of North and South America. For each disease, there is a Patient Zero, the first person known to contract the disease or the last person to die from it. There are many hidden gems here. For instance, when the fluid from cowpox lesions was applied to arm scratches, people were protected from smallpox. The Latin word for cow is vacca giving us the words vaccine and vaccination. There’s an anecdote about polio victim President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1938, he founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. People were asked to contribute dimes to fund research for a cure. The organization is now the March of Dimes and Roosevelt’s picture is on the dime. Patient Zero, full of facts, is a work of non-fiction,that reads like a fast-paced thriller. There is so much to learn that I would like a sequel! 5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Workman Publishing Company, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen for this ARC.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Janet Graham

    Complete Discussion on Plagues through History This book is not meant for those with weak stomachs. I am usually not phased by medical things, yet this book has pegged my creep-meter. This covers many sordid plagues that have assaulted mankind. There are complete descriptions of the causative agent and illustrations of either the agent or what it does to the human body. I had gotten to where I avoided the illustrations, but the descriptions creeped me out just as badly. It was all very interestin Complete Discussion on Plagues through History This book is not meant for those with weak stomachs. I am usually not phased by medical things, yet this book has pegged my creep-meter. This covers many sordid plagues that have assaulted mankind. There are complete descriptions of the causative agent and illustrations of either the agent or what it does to the human body. I had gotten to where I avoided the illustrations, but the descriptions creeped me out just as badly. It was all very interesting, but I was careful in how much I read per day. Later, in discussing more modern diseases, the sidebars were much more palatable. There are parts of the book that take an obvious political position that I found disturbing. For an author to color their non-fiction work with obvious political favoritism makes me wonder about the content of this book. Since I only found this to be so in covering more modern epidemics and pandemics, the book only lost 1 star. But that political pandering made me think less of the authors and this book. This is just a warning to readers of this book to look behind the curtain as there is political prejudice at work. I would say that this book is a 'must read' for anyone with Hollywood aspirations or anyone who enjoys true horror. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I received a free e-ARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have always found infectious diseases to be fascinating, so I've read a lot of books about them (some about specific diseases and others about a range of different ones.) And I have to say, this book was one of the best I've read. Firstly, the authors covered a really broad range of diseases/illnesses including, but not limited to -ergotism, Ebola, Yellow Fever, The Plague, Mad Cow Disease, Lepros I received a free e-ARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have always found infectious diseases to be fascinating, so I've read a lot of books about them (some about specific diseases and others about a range of different ones.) And I have to say, this book was one of the best I've read. Firstly, the authors covered a really broad range of diseases/illnesses including, but not limited to -ergotism, Ebola, Yellow Fever, The Plague, Mad Cow Disease, Leprosy, Measles, Influenza, Rabies, and Smallpox. I think it was really clever how they chose a specific outbreak/epidemic in order to explore the disease and it's symptoms, as well as the socio-historical context in which it occurred, discussing relevant issues such as the economic impact, or religious beliefs (a fun fact I didn't know was that the Christian Church in Europe encouraged people to give alms to people with leprosy in exchange for prayers, so despite the fact lepers were outcast from society and shunned, they could still have some participation in spiritual life on the margins and have money to feed themselves... at least theoretically.) These chapters are interspersed with chapters exploring concepts related to infectious disease and outbreaks, such as zoonoses, the development of germ theory, the history of autopsy, public health measures, and politicisation of plagues (such as with COVID-19.) The authors have managed to pack in a ton of information into this book without the writing becoming too dense. It's easy to read, and aimed at a lay audience, rather than professionals. There are heaps of full colour images to support the text as well. If you have even a passing interest in medicine, diseases, science, public health or history, this is an excellent read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Many thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for providing me with a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. A brilliant and timely book! Separated into sections with different themes woven through - including spotlighting different disease pandemics, cures fake and real, and the Patient Zeros (the start of the pandemics) - this is a wonderfully easy book for anyone to pick up and read. The chapters are short, snappy, and fully contained, and it’s written so it’s easily ac Many thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for providing me with a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. A brilliant and timely book! Separated into sections with different themes woven through - including spotlighting different disease pandemics, cures fake and real, and the Patient Zeros (the start of the pandemics) - this is a wonderfully easy book for anyone to pick up and read. The chapters are short, snappy, and fully contained, and it’s written so it’s easily accessible for the non medical population. There’s also loads of pictures throughout the book as well as various boxes with short stories related to the chapter they appear in. I thought the authors did a good job of staying neutral, especially with some of the politicisation of pandemics that has happened in recent history. Some of the pictures can get a little gruesome and the stories aren’t for everyone - those who are delicate or aren’t a fan of medical stuff may struggle - but this is a wonderful and interesting look at pandemics throughout history up to today.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    *I received a free ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review* This is a must read! The authors do an excellent job of giving historical perspective for each of the diseases as well as explaining what causes the disease and how it is treated/managed today. I learned so much from this book - it's written in a way to make even some of the more complicated medical/science concepts easy to understand. The only downside of reading this was that it made me realize just ho *I received a free ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review* This is a must read! The authors do an excellent job of giving historical perspective for each of the diseases as well as explaining what causes the disease and how it is treated/managed today. I learned so much from this book - it's written in a way to make even some of the more complicated medical/science concepts easy to understand. The only downside of reading this was that it made me realize just how many deadly diseases are still hanging around and how easy it could be to experience another pandemic or epidemic in my lifetime - I will probably keep a mask with me at all times from now on. I wish we could get all anti-vaxers and anti-maskers to read this so that they can better understand how these things stop diseases from spreading and help to get us on the road to recovery. I got this as an e-book, but will definitely purchase it in paperwork so that I can easily refer to it in the future.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Filza

    A fascinating, graphically beautiful, and approachable trip through the history of numerous major human infectious diseases. I learned new concepts from this book, which I found to be both intriguing and easy to read. This book does an excellent job of addressing social and environmental, economic, and political elements that influence the spread and management of infectious illnesses. The pictures and comment sections are fun and informational, and they help to break up the book. The book's ton A fascinating, graphically beautiful, and approachable trip through the history of numerous major human infectious diseases. I learned new concepts from this book, which I found to be both intriguing and easy to read. This book does an excellent job of addressing social and environmental, economic, and political elements that influence the spread and management of infectious illnesses. The pictures and comment sections are fun and informational, and they help to break up the book. The book's tone was colloquial, which I liked. A lot of the information felt like trivia, with cool facts you could tell your friends and family. Excellent nonfiction with color images and an easy-to-understand descriptive history of many of the world's most infamous diseases. It was enjoyable to read, which is difficult to do when writing about serious health-related matters. A fantastic asset to any library suitable for young adults and up. It's the ideal present for everyone who enjoys learning about different diseases' history.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Once again, Kang and Pedersen hit the jackpot in science writing I loved this book. I loved the conversational tone and the light-hearted moments, the latter of which is a stellar accomplishment given the subject matter. The visuals are also great. I had already read “Quakery” by this writing duo and loved it, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. None of the chapters is very long and I fell into the trap of reading just one more before putting the book down. It was ne Once again, Kang and Pedersen hit the jackpot in science writing I loved this book. I loved the conversational tone and the light-hearted moments, the latter of which is a stellar accomplishment given the subject matter. The visuals are also great. I had already read “Quakery” by this writing duo and loved it, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. None of the chapters is very long and I fell into the trap of reading just one more before putting the book down. It was never just one more. Kang and Pedersen very effectively communicate scientific information in simple, enjoyable language. I consider this book a must-read in this day and age. Their coverage of the COVID pandemic, although short, is one of the best I’ve read. I would be willing to read a much longer work by them in this area. Thank you to Netgalley and Workman Publishing Company for the advance reader copy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    MauiBeachReads

    What a great book, especially during these uncertain times! As a frontline healthcare provider, I found it fascinating to read about the initial outbreaks of specific diseases, the spread, and containment. While I believe this book will be of particular interest to those working in the medical field, it is written in layman's terms so that you don't need an advanced degree to understand it. It covers a wide breadth of disease types, from Hansen's disease to rabies to smallpox to Ebola and Covid- What a great book, especially during these uncertain times! As a frontline healthcare provider, I found it fascinating to read about the initial outbreaks of specific diseases, the spread, and containment. While I believe this book will be of particular interest to those working in the medical field, it is written in layman's terms so that you don't need an advanced degree to understand it. It covers a wide breadth of disease types, from Hansen's disease to rabies to smallpox to Ebola and Covid-19. I loved all the extra little informational / trivia bits included as well - historical figures who had the disease, historical facts about treatment methods, etc. While I received a free eBook copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I'll be buying a physical copy when this is released - it would make a perfect gift for a medical student or anyone interested in weird history. I'll be buying one for my teenage son for Christmas!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Great book. Really enjoyed this because the author tied everything together so neatly as concerns diseases, when they started, what impact they had on history, cures, whether they were zoonoses (animal to humans) or just human problems. Some of this information was familiar, but a lot of stuff wasn't. I especially liked the history that was added when comparing COVID19 to past pandemics/epidemics. I'm always a little leary of reading a book like this for fear I've already covered everything, and Great book. Really enjoyed this because the author tied everything together so neatly as concerns diseases, when they started, what impact they had on history, cures, whether they were zoonoses (animal to humans) or just human problems. Some of this information was familiar, but a lot of stuff wasn't. I especially liked the history that was added when comparing COVID19 to past pandemics/epidemics. I'm always a little leary of reading a book like this for fear I've already covered everything, and there won't be anything new for me, but this book was an excellent read. Highly recommend it for people who are interested in infectious diseases, especially now with the pandemic of COVID19. I think a lot more people are learning about this area of science because of the situation we now find ourselves in. The author again covers the very real possibility of more infectious diseases being passed from animals to humans as we drive more into the animals' habitats.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Excellent nonfiction with color illustrations along with an understandable descriptive history of many of the famous diseases that have terrorized the globe. Table of contents organizes, and the intro to each chapter sets goals, which is a format which lends itself to a self study course in disease. Extensive sources (pp.358-391) are arranged by chapter. With the Covid pandemic in its second year, this title is loaded with facts and information, without being heavily academic. I found it enterta Excellent nonfiction with color illustrations along with an understandable descriptive history of many of the famous diseases that have terrorized the globe. Table of contents organizes, and the intro to each chapter sets goals, which is a format which lends itself to a self study course in disease. Extensive sources (pp.358-391) are arranged by chapter. With the Covid pandemic in its second year, this title is loaded with facts and information, without being heavily academic. I found it entertaining, which is hard to achieve when writing about serious subjects. Great addition to any library serving young adults and above. Perfect gift for those who savor information about the history of disease.

  28. 5 out of 5

    MookNana

    Absolutely fascinating reading! This book takes very complex technical topics and explains them in a very accessible, interesting way. Along with discussions of various diseases, there are very compelling side sections about the various social, geographical, political, and historical contexts and effects of the various diseases. It's quite comprehensive and leaves the reader with a fairly deep (for the layman) and well-rounded understanding. FYI - not a book for the squeamish. There are lots of Absolutely fascinating reading! This book takes very complex technical topics and explains them in a very accessible, interesting way. Along with discussions of various diseases, there are very compelling side sections about the various social, geographical, political, and historical contexts and effects of the various diseases. It's quite comprehensive and leaves the reader with a fairly deep (for the layman) and well-rounded understanding. FYI - not a book for the squeamish. There are lots of detailed pictures and illustrations, which are helpful and useful--if you have a strong stomach. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    3.5 stars I was pleasantly surprised at how this book was so delightfully funny and informative with a topic that could be seen as very morbid. If you’re interested in reading about epidemics, then this book is definitely for you. Each chapter, which feel more like short vignettes, introduces a different disease and the epidemic that quickly followed their discovery. I also enjoyed that the book did a pretty good job of addressing environmental, cultural, social, economic, and political factors t 3.5 stars I was pleasantly surprised at how this book was so delightfully funny and informative with a topic that could be seen as very morbid. If you’re interested in reading about epidemics, then this book is definitely for you. Each chapter, which feel more like short vignettes, introduces a different disease and the epidemic that quickly followed their discovery. I also enjoyed that the book did a pretty good job of addressing environmental, cultural, social, economic, and political factors that influence how infectious diseases are spread and managed. Overall a fun and informative read. ARC given by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tim Armstrong

    Honestly disappointed in this book. It was interesting, but I feel like I was sold a bill of goods by the title. There is some talk about various Patients Zero throughout history, but the vast majority of the book is about the history of various diseases and the science behind them. This was incredibly interesting but I was hoping for more. I did appreciate how new this book was and it's extensive coverage of the current unpleasantness. Honestly disappointed in this book. It was interesting, but I feel like I was sold a bill of goods by the title. There is some talk about various Patients Zero throughout history, but the vast majority of the book is about the history of various diseases and the science behind them. This was incredibly interesting but I was hoping for more. I did appreciate how new this book was and it's extensive coverage of the current unpleasantness.

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