“Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases” by Lydia Kang MD and Nate Pedersen, Workman Publishing, 389 pages, $24.95.
Review: The Disease and the Gory Details | Book reviews and short stories
The current pandemic has made our great nation the homeland of hypochondriacs. Every sniffle or cough now forces us to reach for the nearest mask and hand sanitizer while viewing any stranger who approaches as a potential “carrier”. This makes this book the perfect read for the season.
“Patient Zero” by Lydia Kang, MD, an internist in Omaha, and Nate Pedersen, a journalist in Oregon, contains enough information about humanity’s killer diseases to ensure sleepless nights until this pandemic wears off. calmed down.
The authors’ previous book, “Quackery,” was favorably reviewed in this space on June 7, 2018, and was a light-hearted review of failings in the medical profession. The subject of their new book is much darker, although occasionally flashes of dry wit shine through the darkness.
“Patient Zero” is a compendium of the transmissible afflictions from Anthrax to Zika, which have periodically thinned the ranks of humans through the ages.
Many of the illnesses described make the current pandemic pale in comparison. Bacterial, viral and fungal etiologies are covered as well as more obscure causes such as ‘mad cow’ prions and diphtheria and tetanus toxins.