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)
Written a short article on the subject.
Yes. Good job with a terrible book.
This book could have been written in three chapters. History of rabies was so boring I skipped over chapters. The information on Pasteur and his discovery of the rabies vaccine was interesting but If you want to read a book about rabies it would make more sense to spend a credit on a book about Louis Pasteur.
Although it had me writhing in my seat at times, I really enjoyed the detailed stories and scientific knowledge packed in this book. I suggest anyone who is strong of stomach take a listen to this book.
This book goes into wonderful detail about the history rabies and is one of the best researched books on all its historical parts. It talks of Man's relationship with dogs, and how rabies played such a significant roll. It continues to explore the development of the vaccine, which reaches out into the invention of vaccines in general. It's well paced and packed with very interesting tidbits along the way. Ever wonder where the phrase "Hair of the dog that bit you" came from, you'll find that answer and much more in this wonderful book. I would have liked a better examination into the symptoms of this disease and specifics on how it affects the brain.
I highly recommend this for anyone with even a mild curiosity in zombies, werewolves, and the bond between man and beast. It's a great book for those who are fascinated by both modern day, and our humanities past.
The first few chapters of this book were a bit disconnected from the rest of the story. I almost stopped reading. However, I am glad that I stuck in there, because the book did get interesting. Not sure that I would recommend unless you really love this genre.
What an excellent, informative book, told in an interesting way. The authors made this subject quite interesting. I particularly liked the description of how the public's perception of rabies influenced the creation of creatures such as werewolves and vampires. And who knew that rabies symptoms include hydrophobia (fear of water) and hyper sexuality in men (they can ejaculate more than 20 times per day at the end of the course of rabies). The parts about Pasteur's creation of the vaccine and the various medical theories of rabies over the years was fascinating. Overall it was a well told and well narrated book, with just a few sections that I thought dragged on a little.
Both the audio and print version are great, Rabid is one of those books that you want to switch back and forth
The the disease has had on the world.
He is easy to listen to, yet makes the reading exciting
Rabies has been with us so long, the history of how is spread and the damage the disease can do is enlightens.
I am obsessed with learning. Either about history of society, epidemiology or spirituality. I would say I'm a seeker.
It told the story surrounding Rabies not just the disease itself. It had so many interesting details that weren't necessarily directly about rabies itself but was interwoven into the life, environment and people affected by rabies. It was a "full" story, not flat or one dimensional.
It gave me the full picture of rabies and the time in which rabies thrived.
Bringing back into memory the full horror and impact of rabies.
A fantastic read that left me wanting more. I was really impressed that it didn't just tell me about the disease it told me about the time and life around it. It reminded me so many things I had forgotten or overlooked about the massive impact rabies had. It also brought us into modern times with rabies and what that looks like today. It really was a full and well rounded account of the disease that was colorful and rich. At no point was this boring and tedious. It was a great account, a scientific account but with all the flavor to make it palatable to any reader. Would recommend!
The book, Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus is a very difficult "listen." First, the examples of "cures" that were practiced prior to Lister become tedious. I certainly did not feel a need to delve so deeply into the arena of error. The theories of the causes were interesting enough, but the book really does not pick up speed until Lister enters with his life transforming work.
I found it interesting that Lister ran into the same problems as proponents of modern vaccines do today. It's hard to pit science against politics today - and it was in Lister's time as well. That is an interesting historical perspective.
I must say, however, that I found the narrator to be very annoying. He pronounces words well - and seems to adopt various accents well, but his vocal quality is tiring and his interpretation of the sentences is so incongruous as to leave one wondering what the purpose of some of the sentences would have been.
I think this would have been a better "read" than "listen."
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
"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.
Report Inappropriate Content