We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus | [Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy]

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus

The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.
Regular Price:$20.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

A maddened creature, frothing at the mouth, lunges at an innocent victim—and with a bite, transforms its prey into another raving monster. It’s a scenario that underlies our darkest tales of supernatural horror, but its power derives from a very real virus, a deadly scourge known to mankind from our earliest days. In this fascinating exploration, journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart four thousand years in the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies.

The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. A disease that spreads avidly from animals to humans, rabies has served as a symbol of savage madness and inhuman possession throughout history. Today, its history can help shed light on the wave of emerging diseases—from AIDS to SARS to avian flu—with origins in animal populations.

From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.

Bill Wasik is a senior editor at Wired magazine and was previously a senior editor at Harper’s, where he wrote on culture, media, and politics. He is the editor of the anthology Submersion Journalism and has also written for Oxford American, Slate, Salon, and McSweeney’s.

©2012 Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[An] ambitious and smart history of the virus…. The authors track how science tried to tame the scourge, with its ravaging neurological effects. Yet the rare tales of modern survivors only underscore that, despite the existence of treatment through a series of injections, we're at a stalemate in conquering rabies." (Publishers Weekly)

"[Wasik and Murphy] place the world's deadliest virus in its historical and cultural context with a scientifically sound and compelling history that begins in ancient Mesopotamia and ends in twenty-first-century Bali…Readable, fascinating, informative, and occasionally gruesome, this is highly recommended for anyone interested in medical history or the cultural history of disease." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (414 )
5 star
 (112)
4 star
 (166)
3 star
 (87)
2 star
 (34)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
3.7 (371 )
5 star
 (102)
4 star
 (137)
3 star
 (83)
2 star
 (33)
1 star
 (16)
Story
3.8 (368 )
5 star
 (105)
4 star
 (148)
3 star
 (78)
2 star
 (25)
1 star
 (12)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Sparkly SF, CA, United States 10-06-12
    Sparkly SF, CA, United States 10-06-12 Member Since 2008

    interested in history, science, and pulp fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    33
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My favorite science read this year."

    I have told many people about this fabulous book, and the response is always raised eyebrows, and a surprised grimace. "Rabies? Really?!" Yes, really! (You may also have grown up hearing about "a series of painful shots in the stomach," which was my parents' way of getting me to stop adopting neighborhood squirrels.)

    This is among the best of books of its genre - it takes one purported focus, and spirals out to create an interdisciplinary gem. It begins in prehistory, goes from India to Europe to the US to Bali, and synthesizes cultural, historical, and scientific information. The case histories are painstakingly researched (scouring source material to find detailed 400 year-old anecdotes of children getting bitten by various animals, for example). The effect is a kind of sub-plot into cultural views on animals, wild and tame, pets and livestock more generally, and the domesticated dog in particular.



    I was intrigued by the authors' research into literature, artwork, and cultural tropes like werewolves and vampires, ancient Egyptian sculpture, and Hollywood movies. The authors do not shy away from ideas and therapies that are still unsettled (like the "Milwaukee protocol," which is induced coma treatment). Rather, they thoroughly present several perspectives, so I felt I was brought up to date but not propagandized. 



    So much more than a single-subject book. Very capable narrator, as well.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Trader Pennsylvania 08-26-12
    Linda Trader Pennsylvania 08-26-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating"

    Couldn't put this book down. The story was well-researched and the structure clear and easy to follow. They're right, this story is not for the queasy. ( and if you're tempted to look up the youtube videos mentioned, which of course I did, right away, resist the temptation). I learned a lot and will remember this book for a long time. Have already recommended it to lots of friends.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 11-26-12
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3068
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    626
    589
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    548
    12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The world's deadliest virus"

    Writer Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy tell the medical and cultural history of Rabies. It is told as if we are all sitting around having a conversation, a delightful way of telling a story. They cover from ancient myths of Greece, Rome and Egypt to the science of Louis Pasteur. They also cover the basic science of the disease. What I found the most interesting is how science today, is now using the "bullet" shape of the virus depleted of the rabies and now loaded with medication for treatment of other neurological infections to enable the medication to cross the blood/brain barrier. It is amazing they were able to pack so much information into the 8 hours. Found the story about the rabies out break in Central Park in NYC fascinating. Trapping and immunizing the raccoons to prevent the disease from spreading, that is hard work. The authors told both the veterinary and human medical history of the disease. The need to enforce rabies immunization and controlling out breaks is vital to our urbanized world. Johnny Heller did a great job narrating the story. If you are interested in science history or culture you will enjoy this book.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Atila New Haven, CT 10-01-12
    Atila New Haven, CT 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I didn't know rabies had such importance"

    A great description of the importance of rabies in human history and culture, as it was the first infectious disease to have the mechanism of transmission understood. I had no idea that rabies had caused such a deep impression in human culture as described (sometimes to extensively, in my opinion). Overall a great book about disease, if you don't mind its specificity.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 08-02-12
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 08-02-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    265
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    72
    49
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    26
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Everything you ever wanted to know about rabies"

    The authors provide a complete history of the rabies virus from the earliest recorded history right up to 2012. The information is well researched and the performance is very good.

    The book is divided into chapters that each tackle a facet of the disease--history, virology, culture. They thoroughly cover all aspects of the disease without going too far astray on any one topic. This allows them to embelish certain stories and biographies but then return to the central theme of the book.

    There is much to learn and the text does not get overly technical. The reader has a nice voice and keeps the narration moving along.

    An easy listen which will engage anyone interested in infectious diseases or rabies in particular.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 09-26-13
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 09-26-13 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1071
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    381
    269
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    193
    32
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Haunting And Powerful..."

    A tour de force through the cultural, psychological and medical influence of one of the most fearful and misunderstood viral diseases that humankind has ever known, a disorder that attacks not the blood or the body tissues, but slowly and implacably stalks the brain, sometimes in days, sometimes in month...and sometimes even years, long after the healing of the original wound and the immediate memory of the bite or scratch that caused it. Wasik and Murphy invoke a chilling literary style in writing this remarkably compelling and informative book. Best medical history since The Demon Under The Microscope. Exceedingly well done.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 06-09-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3912
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    161
    161
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1920
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unexpected and Intriguing"

    Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy's "Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus" (2012) was an unexpected convergence of my reading loves. "Rabid" combines biological science, history, mystery and science.

    I expected a thorough discussion of Louis Pasteur, who discovered the virus that causes rabies (after first having to realize it was not a bacteria) and developed a treatment and a vaccine. That's there, in full detail, including the careful scientific protocol Pasteur used; the missteps; the scientific jealousies; and the vaccine skeptics that thrive even today. There's a discussion of the Milwaukee protocol of induced coma to treat rabies now, for people who don't realize they have been infected until it's too late to undergo the modified Pasteur treatment used today. That's the second half of the book.

    The first half is devoted to the history of rabies. I didn't expect such a thorough survey and literary analysis of rabies in fiction. There are the obvious: Stephen King's "Cujo" (1981) and Fred Gipson's "Old Yeller" (1956), and the 1957 Walt Disney movie. The subtle literary origins are even more intriguing. Wasik and Murphy argue that Charlotte Bronte's "The Professor" (1857), Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" (1954) and Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2009) all owe their origins to rabies outbreaks. I am not sure that I agree, but it is an intriguing position: do some of the vampire legends of the last two millennia arise from rabies? The discussion of rabies in Zora Neale Hurston's "There Eyes Were Watching God" (1937) was so poignant I would have stopped reading "Rabid" and pulled out my text copy of Hurston's book if I hadn't been driving.

    Johnny Heller's narration was good, although almost a little too chipper for the topic.

    [If this review helped, please let me know by clicking 'helpful'. Thanks!]

    14 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-08-14
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2013

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Goes Off On Tangents, But Fun"

    "Rabid" starts off with a bang. There are scintillating tidbits of information, swift pacing, and even an instance of rabies being in one of the first jokes, told thousands of years ago (And the reader says, "Stop me if you've heard this one." He follows up with, "It's funnier in the original language." Hilarious!) There's quite a number of anecdotes, plenty of great stories about Louis Pasteur and how his group struggled to get saliva from animals in active states of rabies, just some wonderful stuff.
    But it starts to struggle during the middle, and I was downright bored at one point. That point would be when the authors go off on a huge, and practically ridiculous tangent about vampires. I mean, really? Okay, I kind of get it: vampire bats, the belief that people bitten turned into creatures entirely unlike themselves, etc. But it is a stretch and a half, and it's downright annoying when the Twilight series is brought up. Oh, how "groovy."
    What makes this book so enjoyable, however, once you get past that chapter, is Heller's spectacular narration. He adds so much to the reading: humor, breathlessness, passion, and about every other delightful emotion one could think of that would make this a great and engaging listen.
    Not quite four-stars, but with the narration, very close. I'm glad I got it. Just hearing that Emily Bronte was bitten by a rabid dog and brought a red hot poker to cauterize her own flesh was worth the time spent, as there's plenty more in the book where that came from.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Herndon, Virginia, United States 02-01-13
    Jeffrey Herndon, Virginia, United States 02-01-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You definitely come away learning something new."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Rabid to be better than the print version?

    The audio version was sufficient to learning the books material though I've yet to check the e-book for illustrations.


    What other book might you compare Rabid to and why?

    The Violinst's Thumb


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Using Rabies as a retrovirus that can cross the blood-brain barrier to cure disease was number to but the Milwaukee Protocol was definitely the best part!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but in as quick a time frame as possible.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book for my book club.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Potter Pasadena 07-24-12
    Joshua Potter Pasadena 07-24-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simon Winchester phage"
    Any additional comments?

    I am reminded of Simon Winchester. It is like an assembly of the foot notes that populate the Winchester books. That is a matter of personal taste. If you read and enjoyed those dense footnotes, you will love this.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 34 results PREVIOUS124NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.