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Publisher's Summary

A world-leading epidemiologist shares his stories from the front lines of our war on infectious diseases and explains how to prepare for epidemics that can challenge world order.

Unlike natural disasters, whose destruction is concentrated in a limited area over a period of days, and illnesses, which have devastating effects but are limited to individuals and their families, infectious disease has the terrifying power to disrupt everyday life on a global scale, overwhelming public and private resources and bringing trade and transportation to a grinding halt.

In today's world, it's easier than ever to move people, animals and materials around the planet, but the same advances that make modern infrastructure so efficient have made epidemics and even pandemics nearly inevitable. And as outbreaks of COVID-19, Ebola, MERS and Zika have demonstrated, we are woefully under-prepared to deal with the fallout. So what can - and must - we do in order to protect ourselves from mankind's deadliest enemy?

Drawing on the latest medical science, case studies, policy research and hard-earned epidemiological lessons, Deadliest Enemy explores the resources and programs we need to develop if we are to keep ourselves safe from infectious disease. The authors show how we could wake up to a reality in which many antibiotics no longer cure, bio-terror is a certainty and the threat of a disastrous influenza or coronavirus pandemic looms ever larger. Only by understanding the challenges we face can we prevent the unthinkable from becoming the inevitable.

Deadliest Enemy is high scientific drama, a chronicle of medical mystery and discovery, a reality check and a practical plan of action.

©2017 Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Deadliest Enemy

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Allows a deep understanding

After listening to this audio book twice... I can now confidently understand the basics of pandemics, virus and communicable disease....

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illuminating

A very informative read for the survival of our species. Well worth reading and understanding.

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Living in a COVID world, a must listen!

definitely eye opening to the level of global public health needs attention which it doesn't receive until a pandemic hits. it's chilling to think we are currently experiencing what Michael wrote about pre COVID in a COVID world.

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The ultimate guide to Infectious Diseases

Narrator was good.

Very comprehensive, and splits every chapter into relevant bite sized information packets.
well worth a read

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A vital book for mankind

This is one of the most rational, well thought out and informed warnings mankind could ever hope to have about infectious disease. I sincerely hope in a post Covid-19 world we can take up the advice in this book and help prevent further, far more catastrophic outcomes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 19-04-2020

Essential to understand the COVID-19 pandemic

After reading the book, it becomes clear our governments didn't take seriously warnings of public health specialists about the threat of a pandemic and the advices to get prepared for that. Unfortunately, our politicians were completely wrong and the epidemiologists right. The book is very clear and readable by person. It also gives perspective on what more we can expect in future pandemics and health crisis the world inevitably will face.

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  • Paul Murphy
  • 30-05-2020

What should unite us...

If anything could unite this divided world?... the topic of this book covers it...

The challenge is ambitious, to say the least.... and failure will without doubt be unthinkable.

Not bedtime reading unless you love a good catastrophe...

An insight into a world although topical at the moment... a world unknown to me at least until all this ‘pandemic’ stuff kicked off and changed the familiar to the nostalgic...

Well, you'll certainly be a lot more respectful of just how much work is done behind the scenes by some really heroic unsung hero's endeavoring to keep us all alive and healthy...

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  • Lise
  • 31-03-2020

Super relevant right now

Well argued blend of science and politics. Gave me a deeper understanding of the corona pandemic and how it can be fought.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-03-2021

Essential reading

Maybe this should be on the reading list if every useless western politician, probably not though easier to play dumb .

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  • Panda
  • 25-02-2021

Deadly Viruses

This is an excellent e-book, it also very prescient, as this book was written before Covid, and it is very unsettling when you realise just how ill prepared we are, we're reacting instead of being proactive! Recommended!

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  • J. Drew
  • 31-12-2020

An informative, illuminating and gripping account of infectious diseases

By the time you have finished this book you will know a lot more about the deadliest of man’s enemies, worse than famine or war, it is germs. Note that most germs are good and beneficial, they have been around for a lot longer than we have. They were some of the first life forms and most of them are good for us. We rely on them in a myriad of ways, to form food, to ferment and to work our bodies to digest foods and to work our bodies. They will exist long after we have gone. However, there are a few that do us harm and we call these pathogens - just as in most people in life, the majority are generally good but there will always be some criminals and so it is with germs.

Osterholm talks about some of those who first brought to our attention that these germs were out there such as Jon Snow (who worked out how cholera was spread), Fleming (penicillin) and Jenner (curing smallpox). The author feels that Nicholas Tesla, who gave us alternating currents which meant refrigerators, is a hero also.

One of the most interesting ideas is wondering why we spend so much money on armies to prevent wars that we hope will never happen (and there is a lot of money spent there) but so little on a virus that has the potential to cause far greater loss of life. We have deluded ourselves that we can manage a germ but the current coronavirus shows us that we can’t. For some we can’t even wear a mask to protect others - we don’t have the stoicism or compassion to care for others because some illusionary selfish freedom of right is violated. As Bill Gates says: “if anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious disease rather than a war” and that we are not ready. Now we have coronavirus and people are now saying he has some responsibility for it. I used to think people might wake up to what a wonderful idea the vaccine is but more fool me.

The misinformation about the value of a vaccine and as a recipient of numerous vaccinations due to having travelled around 100 countries, I have been vaccinated against polio, yellow fever, numerous hepatitises, rabies, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, typhoid, cholera, encephalitis, and others and I’ve spent precisely one night ever in a hospital (2nd time with malaria - had to self treat the first time as there were no hospitals near by in Malawi where I had it first and we don’t have a vaccine for malaria yet though it kills over 400,000 people each year) and I’m rarely ever ill. In fact vaccines actually strengthen your immune systems. TB (tuberculosis) or consumption as it was once known, was responsible for the deaths of more people than any other disease in history, and its estimated one in every seven people in the entire history of mankind has died of it and it killed over 1 billion people in the past 200 years alone. Smallpox has killed one in every eight people and as late as the 1960s killed an estimated 2 million people annually. It killed 300 million people in the twentieth century alone (which is over 4 times more than the entire population of everyone now alive in the UK). Two decades later and it has been completely eradicated. At the time of Christ, the average lifespan for humans was 20 to 30 years, over a 1000 years later the average lifespan for a human was still only 20 to 30 years. In the year 1900 the average lifespan of a human male was 46 years old (similar to our closest DNA cousin the chimpanzee) and the most common cause of death was TB, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Survive being born and car accidents and the average adult in just over 100 years later can now expect to live to over 80 due to basic things such as sanitation and clean water, medicine (especially due to antibiotics and vaccinations) and education. Vaccine and penicillin have saved more lives than anything else in the history of mankind along with sanitation and improvements to agriculture (famines are also now rare), even on a planet with almost 7 billion people (more people are now obese than hungry now which is mind blowing to me). Just because diseases like polio, TB, smallpox and others are out of sight now doesn’t mean they didn’t exist or still do. The only reason we mostly now die from heart attacks and cancers is only because we can now live to very old ages - they were rare when we didn’t have such long lifespans. As someone who works with children who have autism and has seen its rapid rise over the last 25 years, if activists continue to focus on the cause being MMR vaccinations, we are not going to focus on its real cause over something that has been disproven. In fact, the chances of you having a reaction to the MMR vaccine is one in a million, which is ten times less likely than being killed by lightning. People can die or have serious reactions from peanuts, shellfish and I work with several children who have severe reactions just to airborne flour. On 30.12.20 more than 2.1 million people in the United States have been vaccinated and only 11 have reported a serious allergic reaction. In comparison, recent studies show 11 percent of all Americans have a food allergy and one quarter of them have been given an epinephrine prescription. Even penicillin carries risk and you can die from drinking too much water so lots of things carry an element of risk - just like life. Though I can be quite critical of big pharma, vaccines have been a force for good and we should be glad that they have worked time and time again. And saved more lives than almost anything else in man's history and why we now live much longer lives than anytime in our history, along with improvements to agriculture and crops. I know that, in the words of a Simon and Garfunkel song “a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest” so once people have made up their mind I doubt this will change many a person's opinion and unfortunately people are more swayed by emotional feelings and a strong story than by facts, reasoned reality or critical thinking but these are a few thoughts to consider regarding all the information I’m reading against vaccines. In the absence of many diseases that kill so many people in the past, we have forgotten how lucky we are that medicine, vaccines and sanitation along with education save so many lives and have improved our lives.

The book also talks about how, in the absence of many diseases that killed so many people in the past, we have forgotten how lucky we are that medicine, vaccines and sanitation along with education save so many lives. Tuberculosis killed one in every seven people that walk the planet. It’s still killing today but not in the same numbers as in the past when we often referred to it as consumption. Smallpox has actually been eradicated but once killed one in every eight people that walked the planet. But we don’t really think of these times because we can only really live in the present, and now we think vaccines cause autism (which they don’t except for a man with vested interests who wrote a lie of a scientific paper but is hailed as a scientist who has been wrongly discredited by people who usually attack mostly honest scientists). You can’t make this stuff up but its seems like you don’t need to. There certainly has been an increase in children with autism but it isn’t vaccines that have caused this. And if we focus on the wrong enemy then we will never sort that problem out.

If the story of Frankenstein tells us something, it is that a reanimated and quickened body of dead flesh did not become a monster through its own inherent evil but because of the way its creator, and others, reacted to it. We need to understand and respond to diseases with the correct level of approach and understanding also.

When the black plague ravaged the whole of the world it took a decade to spread in times when there was not travel lines like today and yet managed to wipe out a third to a half of the population of the world. The book explores every germ based disease from malaria to HIV, influenza to plagues. Did you know that the common flu has HA’s and NA’s caused primarily by HA 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 and NA 1, 2, and 9 (there are eighteen in total) hence the flu vaccine being a bit less reliable than the polio one. It keeps changing. Some vaccines work better than others.

The chapter entitled about the history of germs with one of my favourite. The chapter on bioterrorism was possibly one of the most frightening chapters I have ever read in the history of any book ever. Man could be very close to creating such a virus in a lab. And think of how many disgruntled scientists who could just want to make a name for themselves could put such horror Into the world. Think of Josef Mengele (German SS also known as the Angel of Death who specialise in medicine and toture in the death camps of the Holocuast).
The book also talks about how, in the absence of many diseases that kill so many people in the past, we have forgotten how lucky we are that medicine, vaccines and sanitation along with education save so many lives. Tuberculosis killed one in every seven people that walked the planet. It’s still kills today but not in the same numbers in the past when we called it consumption. into the world. Quite scary but a good read and you will be better informed than all the sudden epidemiologists and experts in viruses that I now keep meeting down the pub - who knew!

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  • Maria
  • 22-12-2020

Eye-opening!!!

Very appropriate topics for this time. I am listening to it for the second time as there is too much relevant info to be absorbed by one read. Covers and enlightens on many serious contagious diseases in a way everyone can understand.

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  • Emma Burgan
  • 01-10-2020

A must listen for our times...

This was a tough listen, only because we are living out what is eerily accurately described by Osterholm. I will absolutely listen to this again soon, if only to digest more of what this incredibly important message is. Highly recommended.

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  • Steve Sochor
  • 30-09-2020

Everyone should be listening to this audiobook!

This is one of the most important books of the 21st Century. our fight on infectious diseases should be one of the biggest priorities of world government, next to climate change. The time for defence spending is over. Every government in the world should heed the advice given here and implement the necessary changes to confront the next crisis

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  • Colin
  • 22-04-2020

A must read in current covid19 climate

This will not only explain about different diseases but why we seem to be so ill prepared.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-04-2020

Educational

This book is fascinating and terrifying. It's also quite educational for those working in healthcare

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