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The Viral Storm

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,106 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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 wipe

ebook, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Times Books (first published October 1st 2011)
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An oversimplified view of infectious disease that lacked new information for anyone even moderately well-read in the field, I was disappointed by Nathan Wolfe's book. Wolfe attempted to follow the pattern so often used by infectious disease literature - open with a case study of a real person infected by the disease before transitioning into more depth information on the microbe. However, the opening anecdotes frequently ended up being unconnected to the rest of the chapter. Wolfe then failed to ...more
Jenny Brown
It sounds like Wolfe has done some interesting research and is working hard to prevent a new viral pandemic, but if you want the details you'll have to look elsewhere, because this poorly edited, badly written book won't give them to you.

Most chapters start with a punchy description of some poor schnook dying of a viral disease, but we learn almost nothing else about that disease and the rest of the chapter gives us only vague dumbed down overview of some topic that, if you have read anything pu
This is a good, easy to read overview of the science of viruses - it doesn't match the page-turning quality of Richard Preston's the Hot Zone, but what does? Nathan Wolf focuses on the science, rather than the stories, of tracking viruses and viral diseases and gives you the basics: what viruses are, how they infect humans (by way of birds and mammals), how viruses extend their range and how he and other scientists are working to catch the next viral epidemic before it wreaks havoc. That section ...more
Betsy Ashton
Nathan Wolfe's The Viral Storm should be required reading for everyone talking or worrying hysterically about the current Ebola outbreak. An internationally recognized expert in the fields of viral forecasting, immunology, infectious diseases and human biology, Dr. Wolfe's book reads like a primer rather than a text book. His language is approachable for all readers.

He breaks down how viruses, both good and evil, developed alongside humans. He tracks the history of viruses that are benign. We ne
Betsy Curlin
This book seemed more focused on singing the praises of the author and his organization than on actually discussing viruses and their potential consequences.
This is alarmist baloney. The author either doesn't know what he's talking about or else is deliberately misleading the reader.

Right from the start, for example, on page 9, he writes "H5N1 is important because it kills remarkably effectively. The virus's case fatality rate, or the percentage of infected individuals that die, is around 60 percent. For a microbe, that's incredibly deadly."

The reason this statement is so incredible is because it's not true.

First of all, he has the wrong definition
Nathaniel James
It's a little sad to see people who "know" about this subject bashing the book for not telling them anything new. The author is quite clear about the intended audience, and it certainly isn't them.

Personally, I was looking for a basic introduction to the subject of virology and an equally basic understanding of where we stand today in terms of recognition, treatment and prevention of epidemics. I think the book did an admirable job in this regard. Nor am I particularly bothered about the book's
The author gives a fairly good look at how Virologist think and see the world. He'll explain in general terms how they see the world and what kind of work they do. I would strongly recommend this book for anyone who thinks they might want to enter the field or for those who have not read any other books on similar topics.

It's obvious to me that the author knows a whole lot more about the subject, but in order to keep the book interesting for the widest possible audience he usually only explains
This is one of the best non-fiction science books I have read. Nathan Wolfe, a biologist, though I think virologist would be more accurate, takes us into the world of viruses and their implications for humanity. His steady pace and even-handed way of presenting the facts makes this a very readable book for a novice such as myself. His explanations of how viruses function, react to one another, mutate, and harness the will of their hosts are easily understandable without being overly simplistic. ...more
Tessa Eger
Not all scientists can write. Stanford visiting professor Nathan Wolfe can and does a superb job. Concepts which have been difficult for others to explain flow easily from Wolfe's pen. He brings us up-to-date and shares fascinating situations which show just how complex our world has become.
One of the most important concepts to take away from the book is that there is probably no single disease host or reservoir for any particular disease, as was previously thought. Rather, all species have a
Eric Jay Sonnenschein
The Viral Storm is a fast, informative overview of the human interaction with microbes and infectious diseases. It is a good book to start with if you are interested in epidemiology and the scary possibility of pandemics. Anyone who has kept abreast of the various outbreaks in the past quarter-century will be familiar with much of this information, eg. HIV, Ebola, Avian flu, SARS, etc. but there is also much that is new and interesting, for instance, the appearance of Monkeypox in the remote for ...more
Near the end of this book, published in 2011, the author calls for Risk literacy when it comes to pandemics. Now in 2014 we are witnessing an alarming lack of this quality among decision makers and the public when it comes to the Ebola scare. This book could go a long way towards developing pandemic risk literacy in those who choose to read it. Despite some of the other reviewers' comments regarding the lack of in-depth treatment, the book's formulaic structure, and the author's tendency to thin ...more
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. He discussed the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and explains 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 ...more
Finding books is like going around in a city and out of the blue you see something that captures you, may be an abandoned puppy. So i found this book just like that. Man i was not disappointed. I was able to finish the book in just half a day.

The book talks about virus and diseased, the science, the current methods and future in a very simple and non condescending manner

A. He talks about virus as though they were people and does a good job on why they do on what they do.

B. He talks about evoluti
Leila B
The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe.

Us, viruses -vrii?- and how we met and interacted over the years. Who kills who. Who might kill who. And who do we figure out who will kill next.

The good...

It's a short, interesting read. It does get repetitive (see below) but covers quite a bit of ground. The subject matter is interesting as well, and the author clearly knows what he is talking about and what he wants to impart. He does that well, without sounding alarmist and OMG! The end of the world!

He also ou
Lyn Richards
I enjoyed this book. I'd read the mixed reviews on this book and thought I would still take a look for myself.

As a layperson, I liked the way Dr Nathan Wolfe (biologist and virologist) introduces microbes, RNA and DNA, along with viruses, pandemics, and how these are spread as outbreaks.

Like all books that provide scientific advice and information, you should always use a range of sources and not just rely on a single source. Wolfe draws together his own(significant and specialised) research, t
What a jarring, eye-opening look into the world of infectious diseases by virologist Dr. Wolfe, and especially timely now, with the largest Ebola epidemic in world history striking Africa and making its unprecedented entry into the U.S. This book is basically broken down into layman's terms, which Dr. Wolfe makes clear early on, that he will use terminology that frames his points often in a general way. He covers a lot of ground, discussing the microbial world and what that means in terms of ani ...more
Loved this book, how it combined the science and the investigations of the diseases. While there is definitely a scary part of this story, there is also a promising part too. A dedicated core of health professionals worldwide is working 24/7 to protect us. They are learning more about past and future diseases and how they transfer between humans and animals.
The writing was engaging and the scientific explanation clear and help progress the story. Great pace.
By turns frightening and then hopeful, The Viral Storm offers a helpful, timely, and readable lesson in the first viral hits. The author is a primatologist turned virologist who has spent years in hot zones in Asia and Central Africa documenting how viruses emerge from humans with intimate contact with wild animals through killing and butchering "bush meat."

He leads the reader through virus from the beneficial and gentle to the profoundly frightening hemorrhagic fevers (like Ebola) in explainin
While it does paint a scary picture of our modern situation as a species, it's not a fear-mongering book. It's respectable on how it covers and weighs the various possible sources of epidemic novelties, and does a good job of showing that reliance on bush meat due to poverty is the key enemy in regions of most-likely-origin, not culture.

Included a nice 101 on the viral nature of humanity, the bulk of mute/defunct viruses our DNA includes.

How did we get Ebola, Aids, and other dangerous diseases? -- We got them from animals. We got them from hunting or picking them up or touching someone who touched them. Animals are transferring most of our dangerous diseases and the coming pandemics. This book outlines ways to stop them before they start...some pretty smart ways. Things like monitoring disease in animal populations, hunters, flight attendants, etc. Watching the Twitter and the Google for chatter on disease. Changing the habits o ...more
Ronald Kral
This was a truly fascinating book. I'm a lay-person in this field, but this brought home the current state of the world today and the dangers that we face in a way I could understand. Some of the reviewers are apparently schooled in the subject and pooh-pooh this author due to perceived inaccuracies. As a casual reader however, it was VERY informative. I learned a number of new facts such as where and how HIV developed and got into the human population, why it's so hard to control, where new vir ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jul 10, 2012 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: spotted in the library
Shelves: science
Pretty interesting but not overwhelming, if you are already somewhat interested in viruses. Probably just an okay introduction to the subject if you don't already know much about it.

Also there were some usage errors that an editor should have caught. Like not knowing the difference between flair and flare, and an incorrect possessive plural (virus's instead of viruses') early on.
Hunter McCleary
Excellent. Good overview of what we face, why to be worried but also why to be hopeful.

7 What chimps ate to self-medicate.
14 Predicting pandemics.
28 Severe stress may portend death and a viruses last chance to spread.
42 Hunting as a requirement for spread of microbes.
69 Human malaria came from apes.
70 Reduced microbial diversity in humans versus apes.
70 Impact of cooking reduced microbial diversity.
81 Microbial equilibrium with domesticated animals.
144 Endogenous retrovirus has its genetic mater
Less provocative than the title would lead you to believe, this book basically is a primer for the microbial world and how viruses jump from one species to another and within species. Probably more fun than your microbiology textbook, laced with anecdotes about chimp research in Africa, etc., but not for those looking for an exciting read about why bird flu will kill us all.
Marc Murison
The author (and, apparently, his editor) is a newbie at the craft of writing. The subject itself is fascinating, and there are many(!) good stories to be told -- if only the author had concentrated on telling them, instead of constantly regaling -- rather, assailing -- us with his own narcissism. By a third of the way through the book, I was extremely tired of hearing about how terribly special he is. Furthermore (and fatally for any author), he makes the same belabored, utterly simplistic point ...more
James Neve
This book is currently scaring me to death.... I finally finished it. Thought-provoking... My only random question is why he makes little or no reference to sea-mammals and marine life in terms of bacteria and viruses... Maybe I forgot a chapter, or maybe that's another branch of research.....? I may visit his blog/website and ask.
Great book!
This book was highly repetitive and offered very little new information for anyone who is familiar with the topic of epidemiology and disease. I'm not an expert in the field, but having just accumulated knowledge over time from reading things like Discover magazine and news articles, I found nothing in this book that surprised me with new knowledge.

The author also has an annoying habit of name dropping scientists everywhere and briefly describing how awesome they are (without really saying why,
Stealing my husband's review again because it pretty much sums it up . . .

"By turns frightening and then hopeful, The Viral Storm offers a helpful, timely, and readable lesson in the first viral hits. The author is a primatologist turned virologist who has spent years in hot zones in Asia and Central Africa documenting how viruses emerge from humans with intimate contact with wild animals through killing and butchering "bush meat."

He leads the reader through virus from the beneficial and gentle
In a nut shell, human civilization is primed for terrible pandemics and we need to be more proactive with tracking diseases to stop them before they blow up.

Even though at one point in time human beings were probably endangered (thanks, mitochondrial DNA analysis!), we are now very numerous and interconnected. Combine our ability to travel great distances quickly while coming into close contact with many people with the frequency with which we interact with animals that can transmit diseases to
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“Following his studies with Carrel, Voronoff worked in Egypt for the Egyptian king. Voronoff soon became fascinated with the eunuchs that were part of the king’s harem. In particular, he noted that the castration they received seemed to increase the speed at which the eunuchs aged. This observation was the beginning of Voronoff’s obsession with a surgical answer to aging. Likely inspired by the pioneering work of his mentor and the excitement of the new surgical techniques, Voronoff began to dabble in experimental transplantation. But he went beyond the techniques that his mentor had perfected. In early experiments Voronoff transplanted the testicles of a lamb into an old ram, claiming that the transplant served to thicken the ram’s wool and increase its sex drive. These early studies foreshadowed the work that would follow.” 0 likes
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