Review: Shah’s Pandemics

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

Sonia Shah

I’m not really a science guy, but I have thing for pandemics. There’s something about their lethal power, and how unaffected they are by the human misery they cause, that terrifies me. When I heard the good reviews of Shah’s social history of pandemics, how they work, and how they’re changing, I knew I had to pick it up. I’m very glad I did. Shah does an excellent job of writing clearly, and humanly, about the way pandemics work, and the way our changing world is changing the

This one’s full of surprises to a science novice like me. The role interactions between humans and wild animals plays in developing viruses. The importance of high speed travel to the rise of pandemics. The surprising culture history of Cholera. The way SARS was spread. The way a virus operates in a city, or a household. Its compelling, and terrifying, reading.

You’ll never look at that guy coughing on the subway the same way again.