From the author of The Fever, a wide-ranging inquiry into the origins of pandemics
Interweaving history, original reportage, and personal narrative, Pandemic explores the origin of epidemics, drawing parallels between the story of cholera – one of history’s most disruptive and deadly pathogens – and the new pathogens that stalk humankind today, from Ebola and avian influenza to drug-resistant superbugs.
More than 300 infectious diseases have emerged or reemerged in new territory during the past 50 years, and 90 percent of epidemiologists expect that one of them will cause a disruptive, deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations.
To reveal how that might happen, Sonia Shah tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey from harmless microbe to world-changing pandemic, from its 1817 emergence in the South Asian hinterlands to its rapid dispersal across the 19th-century world and its latest beachhead in Haiti. She reports on the pathogens following in cholera’s footsteps, from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers emerging from China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, the slums of Port-au-Prince, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.
By delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Pandemic reveals what the next epidemic might look like – and what we can do to prevent it.