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Publisher's Summary

A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases.

The emergence of strange new diseases is a frightening problem that seems to be getting worse. In this age of speedy travel, it threatens a worldwide pandemic. We hear news reports of Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and something called Hendra killing horses and people in Australia - but those reports miss the big truth that such phenomena are part of a single pattern. The bugs that transmit these diseases share one thing: they originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. David Quammen tracks this subject around the world. He recounts adventures in the field - netting bats in China, trapping monkeys in Bangladesh, stalking gorillas in the Congo - with the world’s leading disease scientists. In Spillover, Quammen takes the listener along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge, and he asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?

©2012 David Quammen (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Spillover

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, factual, and engaging

Excellent, detailed description of the ways in which various zoonotic pathogens afflict humans, and how scientists study them. As a scientist myself, I appreciated the details and was never bored, but at the same time I think it would be accessible to a wide audience--a difficult balance to strike, but one that David Quammen achieves again and again.

13 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 05-11-14

Good story with a few slow moments

A great overview of the history of modern cross-over viruses from animals to humans w/ a smattering of bacteria. Mostly, it's a great read, but there is a section of the history of HIV that gets ridiculously long.

11 people found this helpful

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Fascinating, but not Riveting

The stories are well told, the theme carries through, and even though much of it is very dry material, it's easy enough to follow. Extremely distracting is the narrator's mispromunciation of numerous scientific words. He's actually a good reader, sounding confident and articulate... then he comes to a work he doesn't know and instead of learning how to say it, just plunges ahead repeatedly saying things like "zoe-ON-a-sis" for zoonosis, and "uh-SAY" for assay - to name a couple of the more annoying examples. This isn't a case of British vs American pronunciation, either, just an actor who should have been coached better.

32 people found this helpful

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Our Third Global Pandemic

An illustration of Mammal's poor decision making in eating horrific, infectious meats.. This is not our first rodeo in which we find ourselves. The Global Pandemic of Spanish Flu, 1918-1920, AIDS/HIV, 1980-1991; COVID-19, 2019-To Present. All three happened to
be respiratory tract infections, that end in pneumonia.

The Spanish Flu aka Bird flu Virus, took 20+ million lives. AIDS/HIV Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome and fast forward to; Rhinolophus "Lesser Horseshoe Bat," the Reservior, "Spillover" if you will, (SARS-CoV-2) COVID-19.

The Hendra Virus in Australia focused on the causation, Flying Fox Bat. . . And our most recent Global Pandemic, with it's causation factor, Lesser Horseshoe Bat.

As a result, I find this book worthy of listening to again and again. "Spillover" is the most authentic, fascinating, frightening book I've read on this subject to-date. Highly recommend this Audible Experience.

7 people found this helpful

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fine book

excellent important book and the narrator fits the book quite well---until he comes to pronounce Chinese names----he did fine in " other parts of the world" --- why didn't his director help him pronounce Chinese city names/

it really makes one go ouch when listening/

but a fine book nevertheless/

7 people found this helpful

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Problems with pronunciation ...

What did you love best about Spillover?

The work is fascinating, well researched, engagingly written and important.

Any additional comments?

As a trained zoologist and French speaker, the narrator's disastrous pronunciation of technical terms, scientific names and words in French was incredibly distracting. 'Phylogetics' instead of 'phylogenetics' was particularly grating, and the French phrases were so badly garbled as to be incomprehensible. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend this audiobook.

22 people found this helpful

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Eerie to Finish

I’m not sure what I should think about this book. Since we are in a pandemic of Covid-19, “Spillover” should be more relevant, but I just got sick to my stomach that we knew that the outbreak was going to happen, but yet we didn’t do anything. David Quammen pretty much had a crystal ball on what exactly was going to happen from our past pandemics. He almost had the exact observations for our future, but yet we dismissed everything.

If I read this book an year ago, it would have taken me no time to finish reading because the information that is presented is so dead on. Reading this during lock down, infections are on a spike, with no vaccine in near future, it felt eerie to finish.

6 people found this helpful

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Exhaustive, detailed presentation.

This is a very detailed and exhaustive description of practically every known pathogen that has made use of multiple hosts and how genetic mutations, animal behavior, human behavior and chance have created myriads of des ease patterns from clusters to epidemics throughout history involving both animals and humans. The author also chronicles the numerous doctors and other scientists who have devoted their lives chasing these viruses and other organisms around the world. It may be a lot more than you ever wanted to know about zoonotic diseases, but for a physician it is a fascinating treatise, and I highly recommend it. I listened to it at double speed and found it moved along better. JRM, MD

6 people found this helpful

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Great Book

Would you listen to Spillover again? Why?

Not only would listen to Spillover again but I plan to do so within the next week. The reason I will listen again is that it contains excellent scientific information encapsulated in a very entertaining story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Spillover?

I frequently hike and hunt and I am concerned about Lyme Disease. I have read numerous explanations and discussions about the disease but nowhere did I find a description as clear and succinct as the information in this book. In fact the book completely changed my understanding of Lyme Disease.

Which scene was your favorite?

The AIDS epidemic's beginning in the early 20th century. Especially the theory that early attempts to improve African population resistance to known diseases using hypodermic needle injection without modern sterilization may have been a key factor in accelerating the epidemic. The attempt to do something good may have had a bad outcome.

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

Yes but it a little too long for that!

Any additional comments?

I especially liked the way this book is organized. I frequently go back and listen to specific topics and this book is beautifully organized with many chapters which correspond to specific discussions making it easy to go back.

12 people found this helpful

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Surprising

When I ordered this book I immediately noticed that it was more than 21 hours long. Given the subject matter I was determined to try it, but had a nagging feeling that it would just be too dry to get through. I was wrong. The author’s writing was first rate and thus held my interest through the entire presentation. Thanks, David!

5 people found this helpful