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.
"[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)
This is one of very few times that I found a book so boring that I did not complete it. The author seems to mention EVERY instance of a vicious dog or dog-like beast in history, and attributes the tale to the fear of rabies, but to me failed to provide the facts that would indicate this was truly the case. At any rate I found it tedious to read essentially the same anecdote repeatedly. The only redeeming portion of the book was the section on Pasteur. This was very compelling and I greatly enjoyed those chapters.
I like to read or listen whichever the case may be.
It left with a good respect for disease we often don't appreciate in this country.
No, I haven't but he's a good narrator.
Yes and I almost did.
Toward the middle of the book I thought "oh my gosh! How many things can they tie into this" Books, movies, fairy tales etc. however in the end I was able to understand that indeed, this is and was a very scary thing for people and given its longevity in history would account for a great deal of legend.
while the point of the sorry is very interesting, the reading and even writing, is pretty dramatic. I know rabies is a dramatic disease, but constantly talking about "slathering jaws" and using an almost horror story voice was a little much. however, the information contained was fascinating, especially the end where it talks about the future of neurological disease fighting and rna-i treatment. well worth it.
Im sure there are people out there who would enjoy this. People who love to read grisly horror novels and the like. Those looking for an interesting piece of non-fiction should look elsewhere.
The book is clearly intended to "shock" and "scare", not to relate facts. Great lengths are gone to discuss the details of dissections of brains and the methods of severing the heads of rabid dogs post-mortem. Details including the saws used, what it looks like, how it sounds etc. This adds absolutely nothing whatsoever to the readers understanding of the rabies virus.
This is a general theme throughout the first 1/3 of the text. That was all I got through before setting the book aside. It felt like the authors read "The Hot Zone" and said to themselves: "We could totally add 2 cups of Steven King, 4 cups of Wess Craven, and some Halloween vampires and werewolves talk to that and make a great horror story."
Again, if you're a big horror genre fan, you may like this. If your looking for a book in the vein of "The Panic Virus," "Survival of the Sickest," "The Alchemy of Air," "The Emperor of All Maladies," or even "The Hot Zone," you will be disappointed.
Nearly all of it. Tons of fluff gore and "spooky" portions fill up space but add nothing to the readers understanding.
Very interesting book. I only hesitate to give it 5 stars because it gave me the willies. That's a horrible reason, I know. I loved the journey through all kinds of medical theories and treatments from ancient time. I loved the story of the co-evolution of the dog and rabies. It was funny, fascinating, scary, and so much more. I found it a quick read overall. I mostly wanted to go back to the book. Only once did I set it down for a while, and that had little to do with the book itself, other than the subject itself. Interesting to see how we fear it, how we treat it, where it is, where it isn't. A wonderful book overall.
Clear and engaging narration.
This is a fascinating book. It takes a look at everything from mankind’s epidemiological interactions with other animals throughout history, especially domesticated animals, and most especially dogs. To the symptoms and molecular mechanics of rabies. To the way the disease conceptually strikes at our primal fears, and its likely contribution to legends and literature since the dawn of civilization.
Are you pondering books to read and movies to watch with zombies, vampires, or werewolves? In large part, you can probably thank rabies for the rise of these legendary monsters by the way it turns its victims into slathering, hydrophobic, bite-happy conduits for its propagation. These and other aspects of its malignancy have contributed to shaping some of our deepest-seated cultural fears about disease and the broader unknown.
Being a horror author myself, I’m fascinated about why some things scare us, not just how. What I love about this book is that it gives serious consideration to the cultural impact of one very nasty disease. This includes everything from the ancient Greek myth of Lycaeon (where the term lycanthropic comes from), to the Bible’s generally negative symbolization of dogs, to modern day classics like I Am Legend, Night of the Living Dead, and Dracula. The disease even makes distinct appearances in modern literary works such as To Kill a Mockingbird, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating and terrifying thing that is rabies, with an in-depth look at both the science and cultural impact throughout history, I highly recommend this book. I listened to the Audible version and enjoyed the narration by Johnny Heller.
The story ventures as much into vampires and werewolves as rabies early on. Picks up a bit towards the 2nd half but overall felt like it had a lot of filler.
The narration was distractingly bad. It sounded as if the narrator was doing a half-hearted "Unsolved Mysteries" impression and noticeably distracted from the text.
If you are into epidemiology and the history of human illnesses I am sure you will find this informative. The narrator is very good, but it took a couple of chapters before I acclimated to his vocal into nations,
Was a little disjointed in telling but a very good book. They cover so many stories and facts that it would be tough to have it be more organized. I learned so much and it was a great listen.
Report Inappropriate Content