Spillover by David Quammen

spilloverAn example of the best of non-fiction: this book is a scientific, thorough and readable account of zoonosis: the emergence of animal infections in human populations.

Many diseases which kill people all around the world are carried by (or principally infections of) animals: Malaria, Dengue Fever, Ebola, SARS, ‘mad cow disease’. This book looks at how and why those infections came to be harmful to humans, and along the way opens up to the lay person complex areas such as epidemiology, ecology, biology and more. The author travels around the world meeting and speaking with vets, doctors, survivors and scientists and this first person account makes for a very gripping read.

The book was in places frightening (there are some nasty diseases out there and there’s every likelihood they could get a whole lot nastier); but always thoroughly engaging. A huge point in its favour for me was that despite much of the book being set in Africa, China and India and talking about different cultural practices, the writing was always culturally sensitive.

I read an extract of the book in a newspaper last year and decided to read it, but when I saw it was over 500 pages, I was very sceptical that I would actually finish it. That I did, I think, speaks volumes about the skill of the writer.


Reserve a copy here.


One response

  1. […] Spillover – Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about infectious diseases which spread to humans from other animals. A fantastic read, scientific yet accessible. Although written before the current Ebola outbreak, it will teach you a lot about that virus. […]


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