Saturday, March 7, 2020

Seven books that will help you understand coronavirus

Jeva Lange is the culture critic at

At The Week magazine she tagged seven favorite books that "give us a chance to better understand what's unfolding now with COVID-19," including:
Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It, by Gina Kolata

Flu is one of my favorite books, an immensely digestible account of the 1918 influenza epidemic that, by some estimates, killed as many as 50 million people worldwide, "equivalent in proportion to 200 million in today's global population." Like this year's outbreak, the 1918 flu was a novel coronavirus, but New York Times reporter Gina Kolata's 2001 investigation reads more like a whodunit than a science book. "This is a detective story," explains the opening chapter's epigraph from molecular pathologist Jeffery Taubenberger. "Here was a mass murderer that was around 80 years ago and who's never been brought to justice. And what we're trying to do is find the murderer." What's especially worrying is that the modern coronavirus in many ways already seems to resemble the 1918 flu, with its mortality rate estimated to be about 2 percent, roughly the same as its devastating precursor. In Flu, you'll learn what it really means when the New England Journal of Medicine asks, "Are we seeing a replay of 1918?"
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue