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The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,180 ratings  ·  378 reviews
Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. What at first seemed like a case of food poisoning quickly turned critical, and by the time Tom had been transferred via emergency medevac to the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, bloo ...more
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Hachette Book Group (first published 2019)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  2,180 ratings  ·  378 reviews

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Clif Hostetler
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A compelling medical mystery turned thriller race against time and death—this memoir is even more than that. It's an emotional journey with the author as she tells of her frantic efforts to save her husband's life by finding the "perfect predator" capable of knocking out "the worst bacteria on the planet." She does so my mobilizing her circle of medical and scientist friends to search for bacteriophages capable of doing what all known antibiotic drugs had failed to do.

Her husband had been hosp
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The horrific account of Thomas Patterson contracting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world while vacationing with his wife in Egypt has lessons for all of us. It all started with some small gallstones that caused his body to develop a pseudo cyst. And somehow—who knows how—he got infected with Acinetobacter baumannii. This is one nasty bacterium—resistant to EVERY single antibiotic available. Tom was flown first to Germany from Egypt and then to UC San Diego. [Key ...more
Heather Keith
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having lived through part of this harrowing journey because the authors are my daughter and son in law, I found this book truly inspirational and a real tear jerker. Although I knew the whole story, I still couldn’t put it down!
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When her husband Tom Patterson developed a stomach bug while in Egypt, epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee wasn’t concerned. The pair had traveled the world and suffered far worse than vomiting. However, when Tom’s condition deteriorates further, he’s medavacked back to the United States. Soon, doctors pinpoint his sudden decline to an antibiotic-resistant bacteria— a superbug. As treatment options begin running low, Steffanie begins her own search for a next-to-impossible cure to save her husban ...more
Steffanie Strathdee
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
As an author of this book, I won't leave a review, but am posting the review my Dad gave after he read the first draft, shortly before he died. Having gone through Tom's hospital ordeal gave me the courage to hold my Dad in my arms as he died. -Steff

"Bravo, Steff and Tom! I knew the whole story of course, since Mom and I were there to help you through it, at least some of the time. But I still couldn't put the book down and read it until the wee hours of the night. Readers will know that Tom liv
Judith Auerbach
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is, forgive me, a real “phage-turner!” Seriously, it is a compelling read—a gripping, suspenseful medical mystery tour that turns the tide on a therapy—bacteriophage therapy—long dismissed or ignored by the medical establishment. The authors have done a wonderful job weaving together a very personal and scientific story conveyed in the voices of the two protagonists – Dr. Strathdee, the epidemiologist-wife, and Dr. Patterson, the psychologist-husband-patient. (Full disclosure – both au ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

An absolutely fascinating and completely compelling read, The Perfect Predator is not one to miss. With a captivating and engaging writing style, the authors kept the pages turning as they described Patterson’s harrowing struggle to survive a superbug, and Strathdee’s dedicated attempts to find the cure.

I greatly appreciated the inclusion of the science behind not only the treatments that were used throughout the book, but also related medical terms, discoveries and histories that help
Diana McCague
Riveting! Page turner! Awsome! Ok, so I’m a little biased, since I know and admire Steffanie Strathdee, one of the authors. I followed this story as it unfolded in (almost) real time via social media and had the honor of being asked to read this amazing book in advance of its publication. Despite having observed this ongoing, life-changing, roller coaster experience as it was happening, the book reeled me in and I could not stop reading from the first paragraph. My heart pounded in my chest in s ...more
Alex Givant
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everybody in reviews talking about science side of that book. When I read through it one word constantly came to me - "love". It's Stefannie's love to Tom that make this miracle happens, make her going on and on and on without surrender to save her husband from grips of deadly antibiotic-resistance bug. Talking about scientific side of the book it's not the first time I've heard about phage therapy, but this one explains it in so many great details that you basically can see phage attacking the ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: health-medicine, vine
“... the dystopian future of the post-antibiotic age.”

While vacationing in Egypt, Tom Patterson came down with a very nasty bug. Getting sick on vacation was nothing new to Tom, however, as he often traveled, ate, and lived a bit on the wild side. But when what they thought was food poisoning grew increasingly worse, his wife Steffanie Strathdee took him to a clinic in Luxor. Soon, the humble clinic could do nothing for Tom and he was medivac’d to a state-of-the-art hospital in Germany, where it
Maya Sophia
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an utterly fascinating and gripping book. This is about an epidemiologist whose husband, also a scientist, contracted an antibiotic resistant bacteria while they were traveling in Egypt and the extraordinary lengths that she went to to save his life using a rarely used technique in Western medicine called phage therapy. There are times when this broke my heart and made me tear up because I cannot possibly imagine how difficult this was for the both of them, to be so sick and so close to dea ...more
Geraldine (geraldinereads)
4.5 stars! This book is completely underrated and more people should read it! I read this a little slower so I could soak in all the information and it was so fascinating. I loved sharing everything I've been learning with my husband and now he wants to read it! If you love nonfiction/memoirs or science, you'll love this one! ...more
Carrie Kellenberger
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science and Technology 2019

I guess I will NOT be entering the Red Pyramid in Egypt after reading this frightening and unbelievable tale about a Canadian epidemiologist named Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson.

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is an infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego where she co-directs the new Center for Innovative
Carla (Carla's Book Bits)
This is the nitty gritty: I haven't been this stressed out reading a book in such a long time.

Following the true-life experience of Steffanie Strathdee when she and her husband Tom Patterson go on a vacation to Egypt and Tom contracts a deadly superbug, The Perfect Predator is a page-turner from start to finish. From then on, Tom fights a harrowing fight first in a small clinic in Egypt, then in a much larger hospital in Germany, and onward when he's shipped off to the one of the most compet
Camelia Rose
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug is a medical memoir. In the first half of the book, the author Steffanie Strathdee tells how her husband Tom Patterson became sick in a trip to Egypt in 2015, diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, later infected with Acinetobacter baumannii that was resistant to every known antibiotic to scientists. A few months later he was in coma, facing multi-organ failure and dying. The second half of book describes the battle ...more
Mary & Tom
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Two scientists, husband and wife, on a trip to the pyramids of Egypt when the husband falls seriously ill. The Perfect Predator reads like a Robin Cook or Michael Crichton novel.

I like reading books about science. Even more since my great niece was born with Cystic Fibrosis because I want to learn as much as possible about this awful disease. The Perfect Predator is not a Cystic Fibrosis story rather it is the true story of what happens when an individual becomes infected with a superbug that i
Graham Hafull
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Completely compelling. As a bacteriophage (phage) researcher, I was delighted to receive an advanced copy of this gripping tale of the therapeutic application of phages for treating Tom Patterson. The science bits are simple and nicely explained, and won't prevent you from turning page after page. The collaborative nature of the scientists and doctors involved is inspiring, all working to try and save one person's life whom they don't know. They rolled the dice in a high stakes game and won. Tom ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: covid-reads
A really excellent marriage of the personal and the scientific. Few people suffering the potential loss of a loved one from a deadly disease also have a PhD in such deadly diseases. Few people actually understand, on a biological level, what is happening to their loved one, or how futile medicine may be.

The author's husband (also a doctor) contracted a drug-resistent bacteria, acinetobacter baumannii, while they were travelling abroad for work and he came down with pancreatitis. He then had to g
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This very engaging story will probably be a historical record of the day treatment in the U.S. of antibiotic resistant bacteria turned an important corner. At least we can hope it will be the day for that. This is the second time I have been surprised to come to understand how scientific research and thought paths can be altered--ruinously--by racial or geo-social political prejudices. The Germans understood the relationship of fat and carbohydrates to weight gain, but because the Germans were o ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Perfect Predator is an unforgettable, eye-opening book. Sometimes I get really excited about a book and I talk to everyone I know about it. This is one of those books. I already have plans to purchase copies for friends. Stef and Tom travelled to Egypt where Tom acquired a multi-drug resistant bacterium (Acinetobacter). Despite multiple therapies, Tom is barely hanging on to life. Stef seeks out non-traditional therapies and proposes phage, viruses that infect bacteria. Approximately 100 yea ...more
Fatima M. Nabil
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"A post-antibiotic era. That’s how some of the world’s top health officials, including former CDC director Tom Frieden, describe the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). By 2050, one person could die from a superbug infection every three seconds, making AMR a more immediate threat to humankind than climate change." ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Johnson
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an unputdownable true medical thriller and I loved it. I usually only find 1 or 2 books a year that I absolutely can't put down and this was definitely one of them; I read the entire book in less than 24 hours (rare!).

Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson were traveling in Egypt when Tom first got violently sick. Eventually they figured out that he had contracted an infection from a superbug - a virulent drug-resistant bacteria. When Tom worsened and worsened and doctors sta
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug by Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson (with Teresa Barker) is an all consuming medical memoir that reads like a thriller.

Steff and Tom are both scientists. While on holiday in Egypt, Tom suddenly becomes deathly ill. He's initially treated at the hospital in Luxor, then flown to Frankfurt, then finally to the US. Unfortunately he has an antibiotic resistant superbug among other horrible things and his healt
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction, science
The author tells the story of the nine month battle to save her husband's life after he contracted an antibiotic-resistant superbug while on holiday in Egypt. There is the initial nightmare of a very sick person in a foreign country where one doesn't speak the language and must arrange medical care and eventually evacuation by airplane. Then the discovery that he has contracted one of the main superbugs which is not responsive to most drugs and a variety of side effects and infections will nearl ...more
Jill Mitchell
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such an amazing read!! I knew what happened in this riveting memoir (Steffanie is my sister), but I couldn't put the book down!! Steffanie has a way of bringing the reader along with her on the roller coaster that she lived through. Tom's hallucinations were haunting and captivating. This book has it all, a thrilling true story from start to finish. I promise you won't regret reading this book!!! ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2019
This was, without a doubt, one of the best books I've read this year! Ever since I was an undergraduate biology major I've been interested in phage therapy and its potential. This book had me on the edge of my seat wanting to read more and more to find out how it would all play out! The authors did a fantastic job accurately explaining the science behind everything so that any reader will be able to understand the complexities of the problem and the reason why phage therapy is so exciting. I was ...more
Sue King
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Whoa. This book details the wild ride of an epidemiologist and her husband, who falls seriously ill. She launches a search for a way to control the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is attacking his organs. And she succeeds. Scientific but not overly so, you’ll ride the roller coaster of his illness and recovery with her.
Charles Berry
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The excitement of this book was not lessened by the fact that I already knew the storyline from having watched the authors struggling through Tom's illness. The action was blended with enough science to explain why medical treatments failed and why getting the treatment that did save Tom ready to use required lots of experts and some lucky stars. You do not need to be a scientist to read and enjoy it. ...more
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Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is a Canadian-American infectious disease epidemiologist who received her doctoral training at the University of Toronto. She is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego where she co-directs the new Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics. Steffanie is married to Thomas L. Pat ...more

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