I’ve been looking for a readable book that gives me the information I wanted on pandemics since lockdown started in the UK back in March. Everything that I picked up was either too dry and science based or read a bit like a science fiction novel. Honigsbaum strikes the perfect balance in this informative and interesting book. He’s a medical historian and journalist and manages to educate without blinding the reader by over elaborate scientific explanations.
He begins his discussion on recent global contagion back in 1917 with young men from all over America responding to the draft and being corralled together in training camps across America. The arrival of all of the people from different classes and backgrounds brought with it increased exposure to diseases like polio, meazles and pneumonia. Shockingly before the introduction of antibiotics pneumonia accounted for a quarter of all the deaths in the USA. A figure that really resonates with the situation that we now find ourselves in.
The book documents all of the big modern threats to life including Legionnaires disease and the lessons that were learnt about water cooling and air conditioning rights through to the worldwide AIDS epidemics in the 1980s and beyond, SARS and Ebola.
While the book doesn’t cover the Corona virus itself in detail (it is an add on chapter) you do gain a huge understanding of the conditions required for these diseases to achieve pandemic status and the global panic that is sparked at various times. It helps to put into context what the world is going through at the moment. If you are interested in the social and economic side as well as the medical it is worthwhile reading through.
Supplied by Net Galley and W H Allen in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication Date: Apr 23 2020. 363 pages.
Prolific reader, enthusiastic theatre and movie-goer and ex-Olivier Awards judge who spent twenty years working in the music industry in London. I love sharing my favourite books with friends - nearly always spoiler-free as I hate reading a synopsis of the whole book in other reviews.