Viruses are perhaps the most misunderstood and poorly appreciated aspect of the world around us. They’re small, they’re hidden, and they often go unrecognized until the damage is done. In order to help readers better understand this important topic, we’ve collected together some of the best books on viruses available today. These books cover everything from natural history to medical treatments and prevention methods, so whether you want to know about viruses in general or how viruses affect your body specifically, you’ll find what you need here!
The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett
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.
Plagues and Peoples by William McNeill
Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact–political, demographic, ecological, and psychological–of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease in the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated edition.
The Ancestor’s Tale by Yan Dawkins, Richard & Wong
THE ANCESTOR’S TALE is a dazzling, four-billion-year pilgrimage to the origins of life: Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong take us on an exhilarating reverse journey through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life. It is a journey happily interrupted by meetings of fellow modern animals (as well as plants, fungi, and bacteria) similarly tracing their evolutionary path back through history. As each evolutionary pilgrim tells their tale, Dawkins and Wong shed light on speciation, sexual selection, and extinction topics.
The African AIDS Epidemic by John Iliffe
This history of the African AIDS epidemic is a much-needed, accessibly written historical account of the most serious epidemiological catastrophe of modern times. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History answers President Thabo Mbeki’s provocative question as to why Africa has suffered this terrible epidemic.
While Mbeki attributed the causes to poverty and exploitation, others have looked to distinctive sexual systems practiced in African cultures and communities. John Iliffe stresses historical sequence. He argues that Africa has had the worst epidemic because the disease was established in the general population before anyone knew the disease existed. HIV evolved with extraordinary speed and complexity, and because that evolution took place under the eyes of modern medical research scientists, Iliffe has been able to write a history of the virus itself that is probably unique among accounts of human epidemic diseases. In giving the African experience a historical shape, Iliffe has written one of the most important books of our time.
No Time to Lose by Peter Piot
When Peter Piot was in medical school, a professor warned, “There’s no future in infectious diseases. They’ve all been solved.” Fortunately, Piot ignored him, and the result has been an exceptional, adventure-filled career. In the 1970s, as a young man, Piot was sent to Central Africa as part of a team tasked with identifying a grisly new virus. Crossing into the quarantine zone on the most dangerous missions, he studied local customs to determine how this disease—the Ebola virus—was spreading. Later, Piot found himself in the field again when another mysterious epidemic broke out: AIDS. He traveled throughout Africa, leading the first international AIDS initiatives there. Then, as founder and director of UNAIDS, he negotiated policies with leaders from Fidel Castro to Thabo Mbeki and helped turn the tide of the epidemic. Candid and engrossing, No Time to Lose captures the urgency and excitement of being on the front lines in the fight against today’s deadliest diseases.