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A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought themIn 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancA humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought themIn 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs.Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks....

Title : Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781627797467
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them Reviews

  • Jennifer Wright
    2018-10-11 20:56

    Look: I'm quite fond of it. Five stars out of five, like Dorothy Parker and Oliver Sacks had a word baby. (I also wrote it, but am definitely not biased.)

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-10-14 01:07

    Reading a book on plagues may not be everyone's idea of a pleasurable way to spend their reading time, but that is exactly what I did. While I can't say it was pleasurable, it was certainly intriguing and informative. Plagues, many times changed the course of history, were used in our nursery rhymes , illnesses, like tuberculosis and EL were prevalent in art and literature. Many artists painted pictures of women dying from consumption, painting them as ethereal and haunting, thought beautiful at the time. Dying of consumption as it was known then was anything but beautiful. The book provides the paths of the diseases, how they were handled at the time, those who fought them, finding cures if possible and what was going on in the world at the time and how circumstances were affected. Loved the set up of this book, each chapter its own illness. She saves the mishandling of the AIDS epidemic for the epilogue, how this was mishandled by the Reagan administration and how so many turned their backs on those dying of this disease.The author attempts to lighten up the gruesome subject matter by inserting pithy comments and commentary. Sometimes these worked for me and I found them mildly humorous, at other times I felt they could have been left out. Actually think the book would have been improved if there would have been less of these. So I am rating this four stars for the well researched information contained within, but making this 3.5 for my persona rating. Definitely worth reading though, I think it is hubris on our part to think that because we have better medicines now, that a plague or epidemic will not strike. Especially since we are being warned about bacteria resistant antibiotics. I was also very surprised to find out that Zimbabwe and fourteen other nations have better inoculation rates against measles, now that many parents are refusing to immunize their children. So scary.ARC from publisher and librarything.

  • R * A Reader Obsessed *
    2018-09-22 20:52

    5 StarsNo one is more shocked than I for thoroughly enjoying this because I don’t even come close to being a history buff nor even the occasional dabbler in various such things.To put it succinctly, the real terror is the devastation disease can wreak on the human population, and this highlights some really truly scary awful times and what went oh so wrong but also thankfully, what went right. To say the least, this was highly entertaining in all its gory horror. It was delivered with smarts, humor, and wit, throwing in pop culture references and apt comments, never making this a tedious lesson to be learned but one that was fascinating in all its revelations. Wholeheartedly recommended, this was a rare gem indeed!

  • Angus McKeogh
    2018-09-26 19:49

    Great book to start the year on. 5 stars. Should be required reading for every vaccine denier, religious zealot, general hater of anyone with a different lifestyle, or any combination thereof. Wright pulls no punches and has great hopes for mankind. Look at history people. We can’t really afford to repeat it.

  • Carly
    2018-10-15 01:05

    "The purpose of this book is not to scare you. Instead, like all good books, it is intended to distract you from the screaming baby one aisle over from the airplane where you are currently trapped for the next five hours."This book was a blast. The history is fun and engaging and crazy. (Did you know that the crazy anti-plague beak doctor costumes kind of worked? I didn't.) And the author's commentary is brash and opinionated and purely entertaining. The Antonine plague: apparently Galen was a pretentious coward, and despite his tendency to throw Christians to the lions, Marc Antony was a terrific organiser who at least temporarily saved his empire. The bubonic plague: well apart from the beak doctor costumes, which are awesome, there's this quote:"Shakespeare's brothers and sisters and his son died of the bubonic plague. Theaters were closed due to the plague during his lifetime. Hans Holbein and Titian painted great works before their deaths from the plague. Would they have preferred to live in a time without the Black Death? Yes. (This is not speculative. I called them all and asked.) But life went on in the face of death. Even the Roman Empire was able to endure for a few hundred years after the Antonine plague. Commodus was able to dither around killing ostriches." The Dancing plague: a mysterious illness intriguing with any narration and spiced up by the side commentary on Paracelsus's impressive level of sexism. Smallpox: snarky commentary about how it was feared by men for its mortality and by women for its detriment to appearance, a diatribe about anti-vaxxers, and a "Guns, Germs, and Steel"-type portrayal of the destruction of the Aztecs and Incans. "The devastation of smallpox in the Americas was not due to a vengeful God or a mysterious man bearing an evil box, but rather to the fact that the Amerindians did not spend as much quality time with their domesticated llamas as Europeans did with their cows.Now maybe you are reading these tales of destruction and thinking, Oh, God, I myself do not have a cattle farm, or I am a proud llama farmer (there's got to be one somewhere), and are therefore convinced that you would die if you contracted smallpox because of your sad immune system--and what if terrorists purposefully incubate smallpox and come in a suicidal pact and spread it to us, and we all die and our civilization perishes and everything is very bad? I am with you, citizen! [...] Fortunately..." Syphilis: the amazing lengths to which biographers will go to avoid admitting their subject had the disease, plus the "No-Nose Club." TB: a tirade against the romanticism of the disease. Cholera: a character assassination of John Snow (personally, I think he sounds a bit spectrum and I'd like to have a conversation with him, if only to know how he came up with the idea of veganism about a century before it was a fad). Points gained for never using the phrase, "You know nothing, John Snow" when describing the cholera detective. Leprosy: the truly lovely story of Father Damien, the Leper Priest of Molokai. Typhoid: the rather insane story of Typhoid Mary, the government's attempt to lock her up, and her determination to make ice cream despite it all.The Spanish Flu: apparently it wasn't actually Spanish in origin, but:"An all-American plague hailing from Haskell, Kansas. There is still research that attempts to pin the biggest plague in the twentieth century on anyplace else (guesses range from China to Great Britain), probably because "America's bread-basket" is a much nicer way to refer to the Midwest than "the planet's flu-bin." The most amazing aspect of this particular plague is the incredible lengths the US and UK went to to pretend it wasn't happening, including threatening journalists with jail and/or death.Encephalitis Lethargica: scary scary scary, with the interesting collateral that it may be the disease responsible for a lot of our endless-sleep fairy tales.Lobotomies: not actually a plague, unless you'd consider "hysteria" in women to be a plague, but I think Wright just really wanted to talk about Walter Jackson Freeman II and his penis ring (seriously) and the time he put two ice picks in both eye sockets and hammered them in simultaneously... actually probably the most horrifying chapter. "Feel free to start using Walter Jackson Freeman II as an insult directed towards people you hate. Almost no one will get the reference, but if I am in the room we'll high-five and it will be awesome."Polio: coming after the lobotomy chapter, a rather heartwarming and life-affirming take on FDR, March of Dimes, Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, and the biggest human trial in history.HIV/AIDS: the really depressing state of this current epidemic, our return to demonising the victims and treating the disease as a "judgement" and a consequence of "bad behaviour," as with syphilis. My problem with this chapter is that it really talks only about the disease in the US. In the Congo, it affects a truly horrific percentage of the population, and conspiracies that western governments actually created and spread the disease do nothing to help mitigate it.Even though the book is crazy and funny and lighthearted with in-your-face opinions and irreverent commentary and pop-culture references, I never felt that Wright dehumanized her subjects. Even as she found the crazy comedy in it all, I never felt that she was disrespectful towards the victims or made light of their suffering. Maybe it is because my sense of humour tends towards the morbid, but I don't think comedy is not antithetical to tragedy. Seeing people as rounded and multifaceted and, yes, wacky, enhances their humanity rather than lessening it. I got to the end of the book and was sad that there was no more. I would have thoroughly enjoyed a chapter on yellow fever or measles or mumps or rubella (the namesakes of the now unfairly-infamous MMR vaccine), or meningitis, one of the more frightening diseases of my childhood, or tetanus, aka lockjaw. I suspect Wright would have enjoyed describing tetanic convulsions. My only major complaint against the book is its extreme Western focus. Where was the Plague of Justinian? The Ebola outbreaks in Africa? Malaria in Spain and Africa? What about dengue fever, particularly in the eighteenth century? "History" doesn't mean "Western history," and I really wish more historians would remember it. But other than my greedy desire for more--or perhaps a sequel--I got a huge kick out of the book. If those quotes sound intriguing and you like the conversational style and snark, grab a copy. It's a wild ride. And now I'm off to go request Wright's other book, It Ended Badly, from the library...

  • Jennyb
    2018-10-20 04:09

    I love a good disease book. Unfortunately, this isn't one. Want to know why? Written in short, declarative sentences, with ample! misplaced exclamations!, too many self-referential "I" sentences, dated pop culture references and sophomoric efforts at humor, it reads like... Well, a sophomore's effort at a book report. Which is to say: it is actually not readable at all. Too bad, especially given that it's clear Wright did a ton of research on these topics. If only the maturity of the research effort was matched by maturity in the writing.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2018-09-30 21:55

    I have for a long time been interested in plagues both their causes and results. For instance the Black Death was largely spread by the fleas from the ubiquitous rats in the cities. Just one odd fact I came across (before I read this book) was that since cats were regarded as evil the people in London and other European cities ran around killing cats...thus helping the spread of rats.Here Ms Wright does her best to tell the story of several plagues down through history. While she never belittles the horror here or makes light of the death she does try to keep a certain lightness in the telling itself. I mean like firemen, ENTs, police and combat troops the only way deal with this kind of horror is often with a kind of dark humor.Looking at most plagues since the Black Death and up to (but not covering) the Aids epidemic (she does comment on Aids but doesn't go on to try and detail it) we get some interesting insights. We also meet some interesting people, courageous doctors, quack doctors and plague carries (like "Typhoid Mary" as an example).The book also invites us to consider how long it's been since we've had global population decimating plague...we're over due.Recommended.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2018-09-30 20:08

    AUDIO READ #5 Absolutely fascinating! Everything is covered from leprosy to lobotomy. Not only are the causes discussed, but also we hear about the conquerors of the horrid diseases that, believe it or not, do not all exist solely in the past. I recommend the audio book; the narrator is excellent.P. S. The epilogue that discusses AIDS is absolutely heartbreaking

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-21 00:12

    I thought the premise for this book sounded really interesting. However, I got about 150 pages into it, and found that it just was not holding my interest. While the author's commentary was humorous at times, for the most part I didn't care for it. Also, I realize that this was an Advance Reading Copy, but truly, it was the worst-edited ARC I've ever read - and I've read more than 100. It was so poorly edited that it was distracting - sentences didn't make sense, words were missing. Maybe that had something to do with my disinclination to continue reading. Bottom line: I have too many books on my TBR list to continue reading one that doesn't hold my interest.

  • Andy
    2018-09-22 22:03

    It is not OK for authors to give themselves 5* reviews. It can dramatically skew the ratings for new books and defeats the purpose of Goodreads.

  • Ticklish Owl
    2018-10-01 20:18

    If you're interested in plagues and epidemics you're probably already familiar with the diseases in Get Well Soon. The book is light on medical science and heavy on pop culture references. The author's juvenile humour isn't amusing, especially her gleeful shaming of everything she disagrees with. You might also enjoy:✱ The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already HaveIf you wanted to like this book, you might enjoy:✱ Awakenings✱ Beating Back the Devil✱ The Coming Plague✱ The Ghost Map✱ Panic in Level 4✱ The Demon in the Freezer✱ Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus✱ Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis✱ Moloka'i (fiction)

  • Idrees
    2018-10-19 23:59

    المضادات الحيوية، من أكبر النعم التي أنعم الله بها علينا في العصر الحديث.

  • Charlene
    2018-09-22 04:11

    Most of the information included in this book was not new, and I can’t even say it was put together in a new way that helped me see the subject matter through a new lens. Despite that, I will probably read any book Jennifer wright authors because I simply love her writing style. Her humor, wit, and strong opinions set a tone early in the book that made old and recycled information feel refreshing.

  • Suzanne
    2018-10-15 21:58

    This was fascinating, and the author kept it interesting throughout.

  • Melora
    2018-09-21 19:49

    Initially I was skeptical about this one due to the author's ill-supported claims that the Antonine Plague caused the Roman Empire to fall (“was a very significant contributor to the decline” would have made me less uncomfortable), but, as it turned out, that first chapter was the only one where her “history” struck me as noticeably iffy.* Telling the stories of various plagues throughout history, Wright explores each plague (she includes fourteen of them) from the level of bacteria to that of governmental response. She tells of individual sufferers, heroic (and not-so-heroic) doctors, politicians, and public health officials, describing how each plague destroyed lives, and how the responses of physicians and bureaucrats helped or hindered the treatment of the disease. She reminds readers frequently of the importance of compassion in dealing with victims of plagues, occasionally to the point of excessive preachiness, but mostly, given the history of human responses to contagious diseases, very reasonably. As she notes repeatedly, blaming the victims is never an effective response to illness. Even in the case of a Typhoid Mary, who, she agrees, showed monstrous irresponsibility in her disregard for disease control, public health officials would have behaved far more usefully if they had provided her with training for a new career rather than simply releasing her back on an unsuspecting public with nothing but her cooking skills with which to support herself.Wright certainly doesn't gloss over the horrors of the plagues she chronicles, but where there are heroes – Father Damiens and Jonas Salks – she dwells on them. Among the most horrific chapters were those on lobotomies (the only “non-disease” plague she includes) and AIDS, where the extent of the suffering was, to an inexcusable extent, caused by the heartlessness of people who truly should have known better, and, conversely, the most inspiring was that on polio, where human intelligence, decency, and public spiritedness combined to defeat a devastating disease. Wright finishes on a note of optimism, convinced that the better angels of our nature will generally triumph over fear and narrow-mindedness. While her efforts at humor occasionally fall flat and I could have done with fewer pop culture references, this was mostly enjoyable and surprisingly uplifting.*ETA: Updating because clearly I've fallen behind in my reading of popular histories of Rome -- just today I've read two articles about how plague IS now considered plausible as an important factor in the "fall" of Rome. (here's a link to an article from the LA Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/... , and Kyle Harper's new book, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, looks very interesting).

  • Phyllis
    2018-09-27 04:08

    I planned on a four star rating but the more I read, the more I liked it. So I gave it 4.5. I've read several books about epidemics, plagues and am always fascinated by how diseases and their victims are treated. The author has done a tremendous amount of research and also has a sense of humor, just enough to get you through some of the horrible aspects of these epidemics. A quote from the leprosy chapter about Father Damien, the priest who went to live and care for the lepers on the island of Molokai, "Damien is a reminder that you don't have to be a genius or a brilliant scientist or a doctor to help in this war against disease: you just have to be someone who gives a damn about your fellow man".In the chapter on the Spanish Influenza she talks about the president who controlled the press and wouldn't allow anything about this massive, deadly epidemic to appear in any newspaper. We should never allow presidents to control the press. Another excellent book on the Spanish Influenza The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

  • Brendan Nicholls
    2018-10-03 22:57

    I finished this one a few days ago and while I found it interesting, the social commentary from the author was a little hit and miss. Jennifer Wright gives us a great overview of some of the worst of the worst plagues and misses the AIDS plague which I was hoping would've provided us some insight. The book is a 3.5 and I liked it enough to keep reading. Some of the humour didn't fit and I'm a huge fan of pop culture but I was a little baffled here. Wright should of left some of the commentary to the later part of the chapters, giving us a brief overview of the cleverness she clearly has. If you don't know too much about plagues like myself and you hear anyone running around with crazy ideas on plagues, shove this book in their hands. It gives you a large amount of information but I just think it didn't flow like it should've. Others clearly think better of it and have pegged this at 5, I just wanted a lot more input from the author. The book needed to be longer but maybe she will deliver a follow-up which will blow our minds.

  • Nadia
    2018-10-17 01:02

    After reading some of it, the tone is so intimate, so filled with well researched whimsy it brings you to truly discover why such strange things happened around the globe. She gets right into the dirt on all subjects with chronological chaos and effect. Sharply written, you won't be disappointed.

  • Karyl
    2018-09-29 20:16

    I'm not sure whether it's something to be proud of or not, but I've always been fascinated by disease and plagues. So when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint.I could see how some people would find Wright's casual and almost flippant tone at times to be a little off-putting, but for me, I felt as if we were two women discussing these horrific plagues and diseases over a cup of coffee. And there's just enough lightness to keep the book from being completely and utterly depressing, even if we still have no idea where the Spanish flu came from, and no way to combat it if it ever decided to come out of hibernation. My only consolation is I'm perhaps a bit too old at 38 to be at the greatest risk of dying from the Spanish flu. (Also can we please quit calling stomach bugs the "flu"? It is not the flu. Influenza, even the non-Spanish version, will knock you on your back for a couple of weeks. If you are up and about the next day or the day after, you do not have the flu. /end rant)This book will also annoy anti-vaxxers to no end, as Wright goes on quite the rant regarding the need for and the safety of vaccines at the end of the chapter on smallpox. I do believe that we're so far removed from these terrible diseases that it's lulled people into a false sense of security, that the diseases every child experienced in the pre-vaccination age weren't really that bad. But when you realize that milkmaids were very proud of the fact that they'd never "lose their beauty" (ie, become horribly disfigured) thanks to smallpox, having had cowpox already, you start think, "Hmm, perhaps smallpox *was* pretty damn bad." And without vaccines, children would still be paralyzed every summer thanks to contracting polio. That's not exactly a world I'd like to return to.I especially liked that Wright stepped outside the box a bit, and told us about some lesser-known plagues, like the dancing plague and encephalitis lethargica. But the scariest bits were how quickly we forget the terror of losing so many thanks to an extremely contagious disease. I can't even imagine watching bodies pile up in the streets, as they did in Philadelphia just a hundred years ago during the Spanish flu. Yet we need to remember, and begin to plan for an epidemic like this to happen again. It seems as if we're just about due for another outbreak.I highly recommend this book, especially since Wright keeps the terrifying photos to a section at the end of the book that one doesn't have to look at. It's so informative, yet accessible thanks to her chatty prose. I can't wait to read her previous book, It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History. I have a feeling I'll love it just as much, and I truly hope Wright continues to write these fascinating books.

  • Latasha
    2018-09-24 22:53

    this book was great and informative without being dry and hard to consume. Gabra Zackman did a great job narrating. I was doing good and handling all this scary info well until I got to the Spanish flu chapter. ok, a little scared now. then the chapter on lobotomies. I could have cried and cried. after hearing about all these terrible diseases then to hear about the horrors a man inflicted on others and not always willing people, was so heart breaking. and don't think this book is going to end on a happy note. Lastly, she discusses the AIDS outbreak of the 80's. The things some of our elected officials said and they way they joked about it was truly awful. too bad they didn't have this book back then. Maybe they could have took some inspiration from (now) Saint Damien.

  • Melinda
    2018-10-18 03:16

    Laugh out loud funny. Love how this author writes so well about revolting plagues and human misery. Learnt alot and laughed a lot in this book. Good fun.

  • PoligirlReads
    2018-09-23 23:52

    Given that I can develop a disease based on the power of suggestion alone ("Doc, I've been watching the news on prostate cancer, and now I think think there's something wrong with my prostate." "You're a chick. You don't have a prostate." "That's precisely what makes this situation all the more dire."), I probably should've taken a hard pass on this book. But given my love of Wright's previous book, It Ended Badly, I knew I needed to read this one. As a result, I now want to hunker down in basement and wear a gas mask 24/7 to ward off any potential plagues, but despite that, this is a most excellent read.You know how people talk about how in order to understand the present, you have to look toward the past? Boy is this the perfect book within the context of the anti-vaxxers. History is always trying out "natural" cures like rubbing the body down in onions and whatnot, and amazingly, it's only actual science that seems to provide the actual solutions. It's a weird and strange transition from seeing people line up for polio vaccines in the '50s to abject suspicion in the 21st century to such dangerous quackery like, you know, measles vaccinations. Wright details how these phenomenons occur: once something is eradicated, we no longer see their horrifying effects, and once a disease is eradicated, we promptly forget about it, and the lessons we learned from it. That is both troubling and decidedly human.Also human? The tales she tells of the heroes: Aurelius, Father Damien, Salk. People who get their business together, and go about trying to save lives and give people comfort. Heck, it gave me comfort just knowing that these people existed.Wright has a delightful writing style, both parts humorous and informative. She managed to make me laugh while I cringed at humanity's general responses to plagues. I get her reasoning for not devoting a full chapter to AIDS, but I still think it should've been done. Tracing what happened once folks realized that the "gay disease" was actually a people disease, would have been interesting. And I also would've liked to see some love for SARS. It had all of the hallmarks that Wright would've loved: the public's response, the race-baiting ("blame the Asians!"), the effects of globalization on its spread, the political response...sigh. Oh well. The good thing about plagues (I never thought I'd write that line) is that there's always more to come. Here's looking forward to Get Well Soon, Vol. 2.And to Wright? Thank you, THANK YOU for keeping the horrific pictures of diseased folks in the back of the book. Had they been included throughout, I probably would've been so traumatized that I would've developed the Dancing Plague.

  • Daniel Kibblesmith
    2018-09-24 04:00

    Another funny, insightful history book from Jennifer Wright.As in her previous, "It Ended Badly: 13 Of The Worst Break-Ups In History," Wright's blend of thorough research and humorous modern voice makes history instantly accessible and relatable — devoting each roughly commute-length chapter into a different vignette about a world-changing plague.Who knew that Father Damien was basically the greatest human being who ever lived, and Woodrow Wilson was the worst? Or that people "cured" the bubonic plague with exploding frogs? Also, one word: Lobotomobile.Stories you might have some familiarity with come to life in a deeper way with modern hindsight and funny (or frightening) modern relevance. Perfect for history buffs, people looking for some historical perspective after the election, and the hypochondriac in all of us.

  • Kater Cheek
    2018-09-29 00:17

    This is the funniest book about diseases I've ever read. That may seem like faint praise, but I have read a lot of books about diseases. I love reading about diseases because it makes me feel better about my own life. "I may not be able to find a parking spot, but at least I don't have malaria", or "my cat puked in the laundry, but hey, it's better than having tuberculosis!" If you're someone who loves reading about medicine or if you are just an anxious person who is obsessed with things that scare them, I heartily recommend this book. And did I mention it's funny? Wright's deadpan humor made me laugh out loud several times each chapter. For example when she talks about how Elizabeth Siddal didn't die of tuberculosis, but part of her fame was that she looked like she had that oh-so-fashionable disease. Instead her death was from an overdose, but was exacerbated by the fact that she hardly ever ate. Wright suggests that well meaning time travelers could go back in time and whisk her forward to our more enlightened era where supermodels are not pressured to starve themselves and damage their health to maintain society's idea of beauty. Oh, wait. The narrator of the audiobook also did a great job reading it, hitting the snarky tone of the humor just right.You should especially read this if you're one of those poor, misguided fools who eschews vaccinations because of something an idiot celebrity said on the internet. Thanks to anti-vaxxers, going blind from rubella, deaf from measles, getting crippled from polio or just plain dying from easily preventable communicable diseases that ravaged our not-too-distant antecedents is once again possible. And the best part is, if there's an outbreak, it won't just be you or your child who dies, you can spread it to other vulnerable people so they can get it too! Fun times! Wright talks about how people handled epidemics in the past. Good leaders such as Marcus Aurelius (the Antonine plague) kept their cool and made sure the government subsidized funerals, because dead bodies in the streets are not a good thing. FDR is also listed as a good leader, sponsoring "birthday balls" to raise money to fund a polio vaccine. Bad leaders include Woodrow Wilson, who refused to let any journalist publish anything that could be construed as negative or defamatory, you know, because there was a war on. Which basically meant that people had no idea that they were on the cusp of an epidemic that would go on to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, overshadowing the bubonic plague. But you weren't allowed to talk about it, which basically meant that people did stupid things like sending a carrier of a disease that killed healthy people to an army base. And the government refused to advise people against even the most basic precautions, such as "don't go to that parade" people people might worry, so they went the parades and died by the thousands. Also among bad leaders was Ronald Reagan, who literally laughed when he heard about a new disease that was killing Americans. You know, because they were gay. So who cares, right? Just slash the funding and ignore it.Diseases have always been with us, have always been the #1 enemy of humankind. Diseases will always be with us, and the next epidemic is just around the corner. Books that talk unflinchingly about history are valuable, if enough people read them. Since we can't count on good leadership to guide us if and when the inevitable happens, we have to be informed as best we can. This is a good starter-book if you want to know something about epidemics but aren't (like me) a little bit too fascinated by the topic. And also, it's funny.

  • Sandy Nawrot
    2018-10-22 00:18

    **4.5 stars** Contrary to my usual MO, I actually chose a book I had NOT read for book club. Don't even ask why I landed on this one, but...it appealed to me. I'm an ardent fan of Mary Roach (the queen of taking factual minutiae and making it funny and interesting) and plagues? Plagues are fascinating in a sick and twisted way. I mean, this is the perfect type of information to share with your friends at a party. So Wright takes the craziest, deadliest plagues that history has ever known...leprosy, syphilis, polio, typhoid fever, the Spanish flu, cholera, the Bubonic plague, consumption, etc....and gives us an education on them. What caused them, who caught them, stigmas and myths surrounding them, ridiculous attempts at cures, and real cures. People who stepped out of comfort zones and maintained decorum, found cures, comforted the sick. Then she throws in her irreverent snark, pulling the past up to the present with references to pop culture. She doesn't hold anything back. I nearly spit out my drink when she started in with syphilis. You can only imagine. She also virtually bitch-slaps all the folks that chose to believe a con artist trying to make a buck and STOP VACCINATING THEIR CHILDREN FOR FEAR THEY'D BECOME AUTISTIC. Good for you, Jennifer Wright, good for you. I'd love to see Wright and Jenny McCarthy run into each other at a party. This listen was pure entertainment. Granted, it does start out with quite a bit of fact, before she gets warmed up. But once she gets on a roll, it's really hard to stop listening. Two days is all it took to blast through this. I feel like this is the book I'd write, if I were so inclined and talented enough. The author totally has my sense of humor. Gabra Zackman was the narrator for this little treat. Initially I had expected a voice that sounded as snarky as the prose was written, and Gabra was not that. She was very precise, and almost a little cold in her delivery, but after awhile it started to work for me. She probably would not have been my first choice if I were in charge of casting but she pulled it off.

  • Marta
    2018-10-18 02:12

    Plagues and the people who fought them - or made them worse. Not exactly a hilarious subject, but Jennifer Wright manages to make it entertaining with snarky remarks and pop culture references. We get apt leaders from Marcus Aurelius to FDR, compassionate priests like brother Damian, and villains like the lobotomist Walter Freeman, and Woodrow Wilson, who was coverer-up-in-chief during the 1918 influenza epidemic. It is an entertaining and educational read, focusing on personalities. The book is a collection of essays, each about a disease, their impact on sufferers and society, how people handled the outbreaks, and what we can learn from them. The sad truth is that we learn little and then we forget it. We are way better off then we were a hundred years ago, but our latest plague, the AIDS crisis, was handled so poorly that I am not certain we will take the next one seriously. Well, at least we have been warned.

  • verbava
    2018-10-07 03:54

    дженніфер райт пише книжки, в яких усі вмирають, а люди найчастіше поводяться цілковито по-дурному (і по-мудацьки), але виходить у неї все одно життєствердно й весело.Whenever someone begins pompously complaining that civilization is on a downhill slide, because people participate in harmless behaviors like taking selfies or watching reality television, a good response is to stare at them and respond, “You know, we used to burn people for being witches. That’s what people used to do in their spare time.”

  • Jennifer
    2018-09-21 20:00

    This is informative and readable, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the author's intermittent sarcasm, but I could see how that might be a turn-off to others, especially since there are times when it shows that she is most likely a liberal democrat. While I appreciate the optimism, and I agree with the author's overarching theme that plagues are best dealt with when humans treat the sick (and generally each other) with empathy and compassion in a society with open access to information, it comes off as trite at times.

  • Alex
    2018-09-23 00:13

    Buddy read with Erica.A book about plagues should not be this much fun! Just like her first book, the author had me cracking up all throughout this, even when I was completely horrified by what I was reading. (Encephalitis lethargica just sounds terrifying, for example.) I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, and now I'm scared to death that the Spanish Flu will make a comeback. All in all, a win.

  • Karen
    2018-10-14 19:56

    Excellent book - not only informative but quite entertaining as well.