SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
"On Immunity" is far more than a book about vaccines. Rather, Biss takes us on a journey as she tries to navigate motherhood and modern medicine. Excessive use of antibiotics that is leading to resistance. Extreme allergies. Modern plagues. So much here that, honestly. How anyone raises children nowadays without living in terror 24/7 is beyond me.
But don't get me wrong. The gist is indeed about inoculations: history, studies, reports, responses. (To me, one of the most fascinating bits of history was of people lancing boils with needles and then "injecting/sewing" the pus into the flesh of loved ones. Truly, quite interesting.) It's a fairly even-handed review of all that's out there, with interviews of a variety of experts, mothers/parents, and it's quite enlightening and thought-provoking. It tackles the hysteria, it tackles the facts.
(And by the way? There's one part, I won't spoil it, that goes into the consequences of the U.S. attempting to start a faux inoculation campaign in Pakistan that is heartbreaking.)
This isn't a dry listen, at x1.25 speed. It reads like some of the best creative non-fiction, and Tamara Marston gives a wonderful performance that held my attention.
I come from a state where our ex-governor tried to make it mandatory for girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus.
Jeez! And here I thought I was outraged before "On Immunity: An Inoculation."
I'd been ready to give this book 3-stars as, for 4-stars, a book has to be an engrossing cover-to-cover listen, and this wasn't. It'd been... too folksy? or something with its narration? But as I was kinda zipping through it again to get some stories for my review, well, talk about engrossed! One would've thought I'd never heard it before! It was so engaging! The things I liked about it before, I loved: people faking blindness and neurologists catching them out by sticking notes on their foreheads that read, "F- You," or by waving $100 bills around were there. The things I disliked, I passionately hated (hey, passion's a good thing!): glib mea culpas for what is really heinous malpractice--yup, still there, pretty cool. Emotionally evocative stories about two people facing the horrors of ALS in entirely different ways, and a man making a difficult, difficult decision that turns out to have a devastating outcome despite everyone's best efforts. These are all things a neurologist sees day in day out, and it's utterly fascinating.
Yeah, sometimes the narration is quaint and folksy, but this book is really interesting, really a treat.