May 05, 2013

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

So I'm sure I'm not the only kid who squirted a ton of whipped cream in her mouth and then ran around pretending to be rabid. With a disease that the majority of the population thinks is eradicated, it's easy to make light of what was once thought of as a death sentence. This book explores Rabies and its manifestations throughout history and its current movement in the modern world.

People still die of rabies. And a lot of people don't realize that fact. They think it's gone because of all the vaccinations and other such preventative measures. Even way back in history though, rabies has been a problem. This book covers the whole timeline. It also covers treatments, the development of the vaccine and other methods used for healing. And it gets into the nitty gritty of the disease itself and its symptoms.

A bit focus of this book was on Louis Pasteur. Everybody has heard of Pasteurization but few know that Pasteur also developed the rabies vaccine. I certainly didn't know that until I read this book. While he was the primary person focused on this book, it did go into detail about a lot of beliefs from people on where rabies came from (some very racist in nature), how people chose to heal the disease before the vaccine (very strange stuff), and new advances for helping people in which the disease has already progressed.

This book was engaging and well written. It's one of those books on histories that you actually want to read and find the scientific stuff fascinating instead of tedious. Sure there were a few tedious parts, especially when we got to the werewolf/vampire connection (or maybe that was just my personal preference stepping in), but I did appreciate the light approach the authors took to such a terrible disease. It was approachable and in being approachable it will educate a larger audience. While I do wish there was a little more science involved, the way everything was explained will be largely understandable to most people as it doesn't get too technical. And that's probably why I found it easy to become immersed in the book and even learn a few things.

A very well written book on a fascinating subject. A little gross and disturbing at times, but still very informative.

Copyright 2012
236 pages

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