... engrossing ... combining history, popular science, and policy, [Honigsbaum] describes each pandemic with journalistic immediacy, emphasizing the patterns that characterize responses to them. He makes the case that reliance on conventional scientific wisdom and technology has hampered the fight against pandemics by narrowing our perspectives and encouraging fear and hypervigilance. In response, he calls for attention to the social and cultural contexts of disease that, though it may not be able to prevent future pandemics, can help to understand and contain them. An important and timely work.
... provides the blueprint for safeguarding our society in the future by refusing to fall into whatever dogma du jour currently dominates the discipline, lest we be whipsawed by complacency ... every outbreak in Honigsbaum’s history leaves us better prepared for the next ... reveals that we need vigilance and open minds to survive the coming decades.
Some of the scenes in Mark Honigsbaum’s The Pandemic Century were so vivid they had me drafting movie treatments in my head ... Whether familiar or forgotten, parrot fever or Ebola, [Honigsbaum] finds striking similarities among them. And those similarities ought to make us worried about the next outbreak ... Each chapter s deeply researched ... His account of the 1918 influenza pandemic feels fresh, thanks to his deep dive into archives and recent research into its origins. There’s much to learn here. But in order to fit nine pandemics in one book, Honigsbaum chose to leave a lot out. And some omissions are misleading. His account of H.I.V., for instance, feels like a look in the rearview mirror at a vanishing threat ... Despite all those details, I was still left with some misgivings about the central message of the book, embodied in its title. Should we call the past hundred years the Pandemic Century? ... overlooks efforts that might help fight future pandemics or even stop them before they start...Surely the value of understanding history is that it gives us a chance to stop repeating our mistakes.
... unfailingly fascinating reading, despite its appalling subject matter. The author dramatizes epidemics like Ebola or Zika and draws vivid portraits of many of the people at the front lines of those epidemics, and the emphasis is always on the tension, the race between knowing enough and doing enough ... shows very similar patterns recurring again and again whenever a new pandemic has threatened in the last century, and its implicit advice ought to be heeded. The flashes of potential disasters, outbreaks that catch a brief round of headlines and then fade from the collective attention span, flicker like warning lights throughout Honigsbaum’s book. Readers frightened half out of their wits by what they’ve read will be universally hoping the right people are heeding those warnings.
... [a] lively, gruesome, and masterful book ... Avoiding the hyperbole that contemporary media relished, Honigsbaum mixes superb medical history with vivid portraits of the worldwide reactions to each event.
... a mixture of gripping storytelling and insightful science ... Despite all the problems he exposes, Honigsbaum also demonstrates that scientists have responded with increasing rapidity to each outbreak. Alternately chilling and optimistic, Honigsbaum’s reporting on a recurrent public health issue deserves wide attention.