The story of SARS-CoV-2 and its fierce journey through the human population, as seen by the scientists who study its origin, its ever-changing nature, and its capacity to kill us. David Quammen shows how strange new viruses emerge from animals into humans as we disrupt wild ecosystems, and how those viruses adapt to their human hosts, sometimes causing global catastrophe.
Compelling and terrifying ... Breathless is so good that I was slow to realize that it lacks the vivid you-are-there details of Spillover. That’s because he wasn’t there ... A different species of tour de force ... These barriers didn’t prevent him from writing a luminous, passionate account of the defining crisis of our time — and the unprecedented international response to it ... Quammen marries an old-fashioned love of colorful language to his passion for detail — an odd coupling that results not just in a lucid book about an important topic, but also in a book that’s a pleasure to read.
Mr. Quammen, a prolific science journalist and author, uncovers all sorts of details about the efforts to investigate the spread of Covid and discern the features that made it so menacing. Breathless is not a political book and touches only briefly on the failures of institutions and leaders to mount an adequate response to the pandemic. Instead, it is an engagingly written chronicle of scientific inquiry. Along the way, Mr. Quammen introduces us to important researchers who, until now, have been largely unknown ... Mr. Quammen devotes considerable time to exploring the efforts to pinpoint the virus’s origin. Ultimately he concludes that Covid jumped from one species to another and entered the human population. He has plenty of expertise on that process.
Sweeping, deeply reported ... Breathless builds suspense and drama throughout its early chapters, the false moves and authentic leaps as the global scientific community kicked into high gear. Quammen balances the gravitas of his topic with conversational wit, drilling deep into his characters ... Quammen can’t help getting technical...but he sprinkles in cheeky humor that leavens the mood ... Breathless...is an invaluable, vibrant contribution to that literature, arguably the single most comprehensive account of the disease and the clinicians who have labored long and hard to divine its mysteries.