Besides being a sucker for prison memoirs, books about books and Jewish history, I’m also a sucker for books on disease. So it shouldn’t be anyone’s surprise when I heard a book was soon to be released called The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers I keenly kept my ears and eyes open, hoping an available copy would soon magically appear at my public library. Then, as luck would have it, in what seemed like no time thanks to the good people at my public library I was able to secure a copy of Ali S. Khan’s newly published book. After letting it set unread for a week or so I finally dived into it and before I knew it, found myself engrossed in Khan’s globetrotting adventures battling outbreaks of Ebola, anthrax, SARS and other nasty plagues. When it comes to reading about disease the nastier the disease the better. So with that in mind, Khan’s book was a hit with me.
It’s one thing to write a book on emerging diseases. It’s another to recall ones career traveling the world fighting those diseases. But Khan’s book takes it one more steep. Throughout his book Khan shows us not just the science of the outbreaks but the human element impacted by them, and in some cases contributing to them (case in point the Chinese government’s early refusal to acknowledge the SARS outbreak, not to mention America’s slow and inadequate response at the start of the global AIDS pandemic). With the overwhelming number of these new diseases emerging from developing world locations in Africa and East Asia, it’s crucial those in the developed world work closely and on an ongoing basis with health workers on the front lines, not ignoring them until the horrible disease of the month starts making headlines back in the United States and suddenly Americans start feeling threatened by a possible epidemic on their doorstep.
The Next Pandemic makes a great companion book to David Quammen’s Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, Nathan Wolfe’s The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age and Sonia Shah’s Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond. With yet another book on nasty diseases under my belt, don’t be surprised if I go in search of another one. Of course when I find my next one, you’ll all read about it on my blog.