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 Audiobook

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

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 -

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 (858 )
5 star
 (246)
4 star
 (335)
3 star
 (182)
2 star
 (62)
1 star
 (33)
Overall
3.8 (768 )
5 star
 (223)
4 star
 (283)
3 star
 (163)
2 star
 (66)
1 star
 (33)
Story
3.9 (764 )
5 star
 (247)
4 star
 (294)
3 star
 (147)
2 star
 (50)
1 star
 (26)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Christopher Round Rock, TX, United States 10-29-13
    Christopher Round Rock, TX, United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    227
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A horrid lack of direction"
    What disappointed you about Rabid?

    The book is very predictable. It goes between bashing dogs, to how some horror story might have been rabies, then back to dogs, then on to some author who might have been influenced by rabies, and so on. There are a few rare moments where some useful information is given but they are far and few. You will probably lean more about rabies from Wikipedia than this book. --In short this is best described as a bad PHd thesis, which might have been ok if it were entertaining.

    From a performance perspective, the reader drones on.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J 01-22-13
    J 01-22-13 Member Since 2014

    I love Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    80
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narration too theatrical and sensationalized"
    What did you like best about Rabid? What did you like least?

    Interesting topic... more about the human-animal relationship in myth, culture and disease. However, this was somewhat hampered by the narration, which was too theatrical and sensationalized. It sounded like the narration of a somewhat cheesy mystery novel.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Pasadena 07-24-12
    Amazon Customer Pasadena 07-24-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    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 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-08-14
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2016

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

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2314
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    156
    156
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    230
    6
    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.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 02-23-14
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 02-23-14 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

    HELPFUL VOTES
    679
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    305
    115
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    107
    16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This one's a dog..."

    I was looking forward to learning all about the fascinating history of rabies and it's effect on man and beast throughout history. The book contains tons of factual and anecdotal information (some of it gruesome which is right up my alley) - it should've been a hit for me but I didn't enjoy it so I can't bring myself to give it more than 2 stars. It's not the authors' fault; the narrator's vocal tone made it hard for me to concentrate on the story and I found myself trying to get through it in small bites to avoid the irritation. It may just be a personal thing with me - so listen to the free sample and if the narration doesn't bother you after a few minutes then go for it - the content is fine.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Jorgensen Rockville, MD United States 12-03-13
    Tim Jorgensen Rockville, MD United States 12-03-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    187
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sensationalized Science"
    What disappointed you about Rabid?

    Instead of a serious treatment of a medically important and scientifically historic disease, this book reads more like a werewolf story. For example, there is a detailed description of the surgical decapitation of a dog (to obtain brain tissue test for the virus) that adds nothing but gore to the story. And the hydrophobia stories read like something from the "Exorcist." If you're looking for a horror book, you'll like it. But if you're looking for a serious nonfiction treatment of a very important virus, keep looking.


    What could Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    They should have stuck to the historical narrative without the sensationalized interludes. It's as though they didn't believe that the history of the science alone was enough to captivate the reader. They were wrong.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheri San Francisco, CA, United States 11-22-13
    Sheri San Francisco, CA, United States 11-22-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More an excuse to write about vampires and zombies"
    What was most disappointing about Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy ’s story?

    This was spun as a book looking at the history of rabies in the human story, but it really weaves together rabies, origins of zombie and vampire stories, immunology, and a little zoophilia thrown in. The story was convoluted; the authors leaped from time to time (1700s one moment, 2000s the next) and the content was very poorly organized. Had the story focused on the science and history (and stayed away from the ridiculous zombie/vampire stories that kept being interwoven), it wouldn't have been half bad. If you want a good history about disease/science and history try the Demon Under the Microscope or the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 10-20-13
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 10-20-13 Member Since 2013

    34. Married. Cats. Lizards. Disney. Ghostbusters. TMNT. Rifftrax. 20,000 Leagues. Nail polish. Fibro sufferer. Likes bees. A lot.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    133
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Horrifying and fascinating"
    Would you listen to Rabid again? Why?

    I already have. It's a scientific story without being sluggish or confusing. It's more than just a book about rabies, it's a series of stories.


    Any additional comments?

    Rabies is one of those things that I've heard about all my life but I never really learned about it. The extent of my knowledge was that it was fatal and it made animals aggressive and foamy. I had no idea how completely terrifying it is, and what a serious issue it is. I can assure you that I am 100% positive that my cats are all up to date on their rabies shots now.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ANDRÉ ORLANDO, FL, United States 10-11-13
    ANDRÉ ORLANDO, FL, United States 10-11-13 Member Since 2011

    I love AUDIBLE! I never get mad at traffic jams and can listen to many different books, despite of my short time.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    470
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    238
    122
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    150
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good topic, but it lacks cohesion"

    I love historical books, specially those who talks about medicine and diseases. But this book could have been more specific. The authors talk about dogs, vampires, zombies, aids and forget that rabid should be the main point, the glue that holds the story in place. When they tell the story of Pasteur the book amazes, but when they divagate, the book sinks.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Agrippina Frogbottom Cardholder Services 10-10-13
    Agrippina Frogbottom Cardholder Services 10-10-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting and frightening"

    Rabid is an interesting exploration of a once-horrifying disease that inhabitants of first-world countries, particularly city dwellers, may erroneously think is nothing but a historical footnote. The book dispels some of the myths (modern rabies treatment doesn't require dozens of injections into the patient's stomach), while leaving the reader -- or this reader, at least -- with a healthy fear of the disease. (If untreated, rabies is still essentially 100% fatal, and it's not a pretty way to go.) I have some criticisms of the book -- for example, I don't think the discussion of zombies in popular culture has much to do with rabies -- but I would still recommend it. Even more strongly, I would recommend being extremely cautious in the presence of raccoons and bats, particularly if they're acting weirdly.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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.