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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.
Lebensbedrohende Infektionskrankheiten wie AIDS, Ebola, Virusgrippen, SARS und aktuell Covid-19 können sich dank der Globalisierung schnell über große Räume verbreiten und Epidemien oder gar Pandemien auslösen. Ihnen ist eines gemeinsam: Die Erreger sprangen vom Tier auf den Menschen über – der sogenannte Spillover. In einem ebenso spannend erzählten wie beunruhigenden Buch schildert der preisgekrönte Wissenschaftsautor David Quammen wie und wo bevorzugt Viren, Bakterien und andere Erreger auf den Menschen übertragen werden. Er begleitet Forscher bei der Suche nach dem Ursprung der Seuchen unter anderem zu Gorillas in den Kongo, beobachtet sie bei der Arbeit mit Fledermäusen in China und Affen in Bangladesch und erklärt, warum die Gefahr des Spillover gestiegen ist. Ein Wissenschaftsthriller über die steigende Gefahr von Pandemien in der globalisierten Welt.
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction and A New York Times Notable Book of 2018.
Our understanding of the ‘tree of life’, with powerful implications for human genetics, human health and our own human nature, has recently completely changed.
This book is about a new method of telling the story of life on earth – through molecular phylogenetics. It involves a fairly simple method – the reading of the deep history of life by looking at the variation in protein molecules found in living organisms. For instance, we now know that roughly eight per cent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection.
In The Tangled Tree, acclaimed science writer David Quammen chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them – such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about ‘mosaic’ creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.
Quammen explains how molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life – including where we humans fit into it. Thanks to new technologies, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition – through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing. The Tangled Tree is a brilliant exploration of our transformed understanding of evolution and of life’s history itself.
Pour répondre à ces questions, David Quammen nous entraîne dans une enquête mondiale. Les zoonoses n’apparaissent pas totalement par hasard, démontre-t-il. Le bouleversement des écosystèmes, lié en grande partie à l’activité humaine, favorise des sauts inattendus d’une espèce à une autre. Un virus qui s’introduit dans un nouvel écosystème a en effet deux options : trouver un nouvel hôte ou… s’éteindre. L’homme – avec ses sept milliards de congénères – représente donc une cible privilégiée.
« Au fil de la lecture, nous avertit la préface de Pascal Picq, on ressent l’ambiance trouble, déliquescente, tragique d’un monde qui échappe inéluctablement à ses acteurs. » Oui, la menace plane : personne ne sait quand, personne ne sait où, mais une chose est sûre, il y aura d’autres pandémies.
When Soviet agent Viktor Tronko defected to the US in 1964, he made two intriguing claims: he insisted that Russia had not placed a mole inside the CIA, and that Lee Harvey Oswald had not been recruited to assassinate the president. Convinced that Tronko was working as a disinformation agent, the CIA furiously did everything they could to break him. But Tronko had one more surprise for them: he refused to break.
Almost two decades later, former CIA officer Mel Pokorny shows up at journalist Michael Kessler’s house and offers to talk about Tronko. It’s the scoop of a lifetime for Kessler. But the more he investigates, the closer he gets to the truth: a truth so shocking that someone would do anything to keep it under wraps. This could be the biggest story of his life…if it doesn’t kill him first.
Filled with fascinating characters and darkly delicious humor, The Soul of Viktor Tronko is a rich, suspenseful espionage saga inspired by a true story.
"Rich detail and vivid anecdotes of adventure....A treasure trove of exotic fact and hard thinking." —New York Times Book Review
For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. We no longer occupy an intermediate position on the food chain; instead we survey it invulnerably from above—so far above that we are in danger of forgetting that we even belong to an ecosystem.
Casting his expert eye over the rapidly diminishing areas of wilderness where predators still reign, the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo and The Tangled Tree examines the fate of lions in India's Gir forest, of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia, of brown bears in the mountains of Romania, and of Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. In the poignant and troublesome ferocity of these embattled creatures, we recognize something primeval deep within us, something in danger of vanishing forever.
In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace.
Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90% of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike.
Acclaimed science writer and explorer David Quammen first came near the virus whilst travelling in the jungles of Gabon, accompanied by local men whose village had been devastated by a recent outbreak. Here he tells the story of Ebola, its past, present and its unknowable future.
Evolution, during the early nineteenth century, was an idea in the air. Other thinkers had suggested it, but no one had proposed a cogent explanation for how evolution occurs. Then, in September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that 'natural selection' among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific basis of Darwin's twenty-one-year delay constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution.
The Kiwi's Egg is a book for everyone who has ever wondered about who this man was and what he said. Drawing from Darwin's secret 'transmutation' notebooks and his personal letters, David Quammen has sketched a vivid life portrait of the man whose work never ceases to be controversial.