Dynamic young Stanford biologist Nathan Wolfe reveals the surprising origins of the world's most deadly viruses, and how we can overcome catastrophic pandemics.
In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic.
Wolfe's research missions to the jungles of Africa and the rain forests of Borneo have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes readers along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips—to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and to explain the role that viruses have played in human evolution.
In a world where each new outbreak seems worse than the one before, Wolfe points the way forward, as new technologies are brought to bear in the most remote areas of the world to neutralize these viruses and even harness their power for the good of humanity. His provocative vision of the future will change the way we think about viruses, and perhaps remove a potential threat to humanity's survival.
The village of Pang Thruk in the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand is like many in this part of the world—humid, lush, and spilling over with sounds of wildlife. Located in the west of the country near the border of Burma, Pang Thruk is home to about three thousand people whose livelihoods depend on the sugar and rice they grow. In December 2003, it was also home to Kaptan Boonmanuch, a six-year-old boy who would be among the first people to die of a brand-new human virus.
Kaptan loved riding his bicycle, climbing trees, and playing with his plastic toy Dalmatian
SARS, avian flu, swine flu ... each virus outbreak raises the question: What can be done? A compelling answer from virus hunter Nathan Wolfe, who's outwitting the next pandemic by staying two steps ahead: discovering new, deadly viruses where they first emerge -- passing from animals to humans among poor subsistence hunters in Africa -- and stopping them before they claim millions of lives.
"[A] quietly terrifying book. . . . It’s hard not to feel a bit feverish at times while reading."--The Boston Globe
"One of the world’s foremost virus hunters."--Financial Times
"Wolfe makes a convincing case for the [viral pandemic] threat. . . . Sometimes the scariest thrillers are those that could play out in real life."--Science News
"An excellent piece of scientific gothic, rich in descriptions of the threat we face from emerging viruses and how we might prevent them from becoming pandemic. . . . This enjoyable, well researched and thought-provoking book shows that [Wolfe] has a clear vision of how pandemics occur in human populations."--Nature
"Startling in its revelations of just how vulnerable we are to infectious outbreaks."--Book Page
"Wolfe’s message is both compelling and timely… Wolfe graphically illustrates how viruses can hitchhike their way from benign passenger to poison, from lone gunman to mass murderer. Luckily he and his international microbiologist cohorts are hot onto ways not only to track viral outbreaks and head them off but also convert them into human helpers—vaccines."—Booklist
"Highly recommend for all readers. This important book should be read by anyone wanting to stay informed on how global medical issues affect us all."—Library Journal
"From a well-traveled virologist, an eloquent argument for why we need better ways to predict and thus prevent major disease outbreaks… Wolfe’s wide experience confronting killer diseases in Africa and Asia makes for important, graphic reading and underscores his passion for prevention."—Kirkus Reviews
"By turns terrifying and comforting, The Viral Storm is a clear, riveting account of the threat of undiscovered viruses. They lurk in the blood of primates killed for bush meat, poised to hitchhike on global travelers, reaching major cities and blood supplies before there's even time to name them. Nathan Wolfe is saving the world from near-inevitable pandemic. That he had time to write a kick-ass book on top of all that makes me want to smack him."—Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Packing for Mars
"Nathan Wolfe brilliantly explores the threat of pandemics, how they occur and why we should care. This book offers a warning—but also hope—to us all. The next pandemic is coming. How we deal with it is up to us. This is must reading for anyone who cares about their health, the health of their families and civilization as we know it."—Jeff Skoll, first President of eBay, Founder and Chairman of Participant Media, and Founder and Chairman, Skoll Global Threats Fund"Nathan Wolfe is a charismatic rising star of the medical world."—Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse
"This is an astonishingly lucid book on an important topic. Deeply researched, yet effortlessly recounted, Wolfe's mix of biology, history, medicine, and first-hand experience is potent and irresistible. This is a book that you cannot put down. In the tradition of Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague, Wolfe's work will change the way we imagine and patrol human epidemics."—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies