Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic - David Quammen

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

By David Quammen

  • Release Date: 2012-10-01
  • Genre: Life Sciences
Score: 4.5
From 173 Ratings


A masterpiece of science reporting that tracks the animal origins of emerging human diseases, Spillover is “fascinating and terrifying … a real-life thriller with an outcome that affects us all” (Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction).
In 2020, the novel coronavirus gripped the world in a global pandemic and led to the death of hundreds of thousands. The source of the previously unknown virus? Bats. This phenomenon—in which a new pathogen comes to humans from wildlife—is known as spillover, and it may not be long before it happens again.

Prior to the emergence of our latest health crisis, renowned science writer David Quammen was traveling the globe to better understand spillover’s devastating potential. For five years he followed scientists to a rooftop in Bangladesh, a forest in the Congo, a Chinese rat farm, and a suburban woodland in New York, and through high-biosecurity laboratories. He interviewed survivors and gathered stories of the dead. He found surprises in the latest research, alarm among public health officials, and deep concern in the eyes of researchers.
Spillover delivers the science, the history, the mystery, and the human anguish of disease outbreaks as gripping drama. And it asks questions more urgent now than ever before: From what innocent creature, in what remote landscape, will the Next Big One emerge? Are pandemics independent misfortunes, or linked? Are they merely happening to us, or are we somehow causing them? What can be done? Quammen traces the origins of Ebola, Marburg, SARS, avian influenza, Lyme disease, and other bizarre cases of spillover, including the grim, unexpected story of how AIDS began from a single Cameroonian chimpanzee. The result is more than a clarion work of reportage. It’s also the elegantly told tale of a quest, through time and landscape, for a new understanding of how our world works—and how we can survive within it.


  • Like an adventurous textbook

    By Caleott
    A co-worker gave me a hard copy of this book and I wanted more when I finished. As a physician and someone who is planning how to re-open a university after coronavirus, I feel better equipped after reading this book. There are a lot of “Hey, I never heard of that deadly virus” moments. The author seems to throw weird SAT worthy vocab every 10 pages, so be prepared. A great read with so much historical and scientific information. Only one equation, but that one plays out during the whole book.
  • Spillover

    By Am book reader
    Excellent reading. The writing is clear enough for anyone to understand and the subject is fascinating. Highly recommend.
  • An enjoyable and incredibly prescient book

    By superbellsam
    This is the most exciting and enjoyable book I've ever read on general scientific knowledge. Part Sherlock Holmes, part wild life travel and part medical discovery all wonderfully woven into a fascinating narrative.
  • Outstanding book

    By lazarillo de tucson
  • Spillover

    By Dan_Clements
    Spillover is an outstanding overview of zoonotic diseases, their history, and the scientists and physicians who work to unravel their mysteries and treat infected individuals. I have read several of the books referenced in Spillover, but the author does a great job filling in blanks and providing very current information. Excellent book, excellent research, and one of the first lay volumes to clearly show how humans, virus, bacteria, plants, and animals all share Mother Earth: constantly evolving and searching for suitable ecological niches. Dan Clements
  • Intriguing

    By JAL39
    I thought that this book was absolutely intriguing. It was very informative and scientific of course, but the author does an amazing job of turning this very factual and informative book into a story as well. It was very fun to read and I couldn't put it down. You won't go wrong reading this book, so if your thinking about buying it because the picture on the front is so awesome but your worried what's inside isn't, don't worry, you won't be let down. Just be aware that if your not into learning then you won't like this book. Zoonosis, the main topic of the book, is something all of Earth's citizens should be aware of, because like he mentions in this text, if your not to sure what zoonosis is now, don't worry, it won't be long before it's a household word, and how right he is! To win a war you must have knowledge, and make no mistake about it, the war on humans is very real, with the enemy being nature itself! If your worried that this book might be apocalyptic, don't be, it's not. The author just wants the reader, and the world for that matter, to be informed of the very real danger that biological specimens pose on the human-animal! Thanks Mr. Quammen for this amazing book. I'm thinking about doing graduate studies in virology because of this book!