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Rabid Audiobook

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

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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

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  •  
    David San Jose, CA United States 09-29-15
    David San Jose, CA United States 09-29-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Please vaccinate your pooch"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Seeley 09-20-15 Member Since 2017
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    "An In-Depth History of A Devastating Disease"
    What about Johnny Heller’s performance did you like?

    Clear and engaging narration.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin D Kreider 06-14-15 Member Since 2013
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    "So-So Story - Bad Narration"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana M. Cropper Washington, DC 06-09-15
    Dana M. Cropper Washington, DC 06-09-15
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    "Interesting!"

    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,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim in Omaha 03-19-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Awesome book."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leo 12-24-14
    Leo 12-24-14 Member Since 2017
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    "Not what I was looking for"
    What disappointed you about Rabid?

    Too much literary and historical analysis on myth and disease in general. Connections drawn between rabies, werewolves and vampires very thin considering later explanations in the same book about a lack of understanding of the disease. I enjoyed the sections about Louis Pasteur and the science behind the growing understanding of bacteria and viruses. I would have preferred to read a book focusing more on Pasteur, science and modern cures and treatment.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It was well narrated.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 07-29-14
    Dan 07-29-14 Member Since 2017
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    "Such a cool little bit of history on this disease"
    If you could sum up Rabid in three words, what would they be?

    Don't Get Bitten!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Rabid?

    The story of the girl who beat the disease


    What does Johnny Heller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I'm not really sure but the narrator was perfectly good.


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

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    Just such a neat history of the disease.

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

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Jorgensen Rockville, MD United States 12-03-13
    Tim Jorgensen Rockville, MD United States 12-03-13
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    "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.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Round Rock, TX, United States 10-29-13
    Christopher Round Rock, TX, United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2013
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    "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

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