Books Gone Viral

The plague. Just hearing this word chills me to the bone (and the thought of being in the midst of one terrifies me). And yet, ever since I first learned about the bubonic plague in middle school, I have been fascinated by plagues as well – both how the diseases work and how humanity has coped. So it should come as no surprise that I often read both real and fictional accounts of plague events…

Ghost Map – Steven Johnson
1854: A devastating cholera
outbreak seizes London just as it is emerging as a modern city: teeming with more than 2 million people from all over the world,
it continually pushes the limits of infrastructure that’s outdated as soon
as it’s updated. Dr. John Snow–whose ideas about contagion had been
dismissed by the scientific community–is spurred to intense action when
the people in his neighborhood begin dying. As he risks his own life
to prove how the epidemic is being spread, Dr. Snow creates the map that
traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source. And, in doing so, established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city planners,
physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and
the development of the modern urban environment.

Demon in the Freezer – Richard Preston
Chronicles the reaction of the U S Army Medical Research Institute of
Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to the September 11 attacks and the
October 2001 anthrax attacks, focusing on USAMRIID’s top virologist,
Peter Jahrling, and his work to combat the possible development of a
superpox virus by terrorists worldwide.

The White Plague – Frank Herbert
It begins in Ireland but soon spreads throughout the world: a virulent
new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half the
population dies, life on earth faces extinction. Anarchy and violence
consume the planet, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a

The Cobra Event – Richard Preston
Dr. Alice Austen, an officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service
branch of the Centers for Disease Control, goes to New York to
investigate the hideous and mysterious death of a seventeen-year-old
girl, and uncovers a terrorist plot involving the use of biological

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2 responses to “Books Gone Viral”

  1. Terry says:

    And maybe Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks? From NoveList:
    This gripping historical novel is based on the true story of Eyam, the "Plague Village," in the rugged mountain spine of England. In 1666, a tainted bolt of cloth from London carries bubonic infection to this isolated settlement of shepherds and lead miners.

  2. Blindness by Jose Saramago is a book that the reader will return to again and again in their thoughts. The following summary appears in the Sno-Isle catalog.
    A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers-among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears-through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses-and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit. The stunningly powerful novel of man's will to survive against all odds, by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature

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