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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (323 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nathan Wolfe Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic.

Wolfe’s research missions to the jungles of Africa and the rain forests of Borneo have earned him the nickname “the Indiana Jones of virus hunters,” and here Wolfe takes listeners along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips—to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and to explain the role that viruses have played in human evolution.

In a world where each new outbreak seems worse than the one before, Wolfe points the way forward, as new technologies are brought to bear in the most remote areas of the world to neutralize these viruses and even harness their power for the good of humanity. His provocative vision of the future will change the way we think about viruses and perhaps remove a potential threat to humanity’s survival.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This is an astonishingly lucid book on an important topic. Deeply researched, yet effortlessly recounted, Wolfe’s mix of biology, history, medicine, and first-hand experience is potent and irresistible. This is a book that you cannot put down. In the tradition of Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague, Wolfe’s work will change the way we imagine and patrol human epidemics.”

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

  • “A quietly terrifying book…It’s hard not to feel a bit feverish at times while reading.”

    Boston Globe

  • “An engrossing and fast-paced chronicle of medical exploration and discovery.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Startling in its revelations of just how vulnerable we are to infectious outbreaks.”


  • “Wolfe’s message is both compelling and timely…Wolfe graphically illustrates how viruses can hitchhike their way from benign passenger to poison, from lone gunman to mass murderer. Luckily he and his international microbiologist cohorts are hot onto ways not only to track viral outbreaks and head them off but also convert them into human helpers—vaccines.”


  • “Highly recommend for all readers. This important book should be read by anyone wanting to stay informed on how global medical issues affect us all.”

    Library Journal

  • “From a well-traveled virologist, an eloquent argument for why we need better ways to predict and thus prevent major disease outbreaks…Wolfe’s wide experience confronting killer diseases in Africa and Asia makes for important, graphic reading and underscores his passion for prevention.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Chris | 2/20/2014

    " Really well written book on viruses/pandemics. I'm not a science lover, but it was fascinating. I also was afraid it'd just be fear mongering, but not at all. Saying that, his analogy between the 1918 flu pandemic and now was a little frightening in that that pandemic killed 3% of the world's population in a year, can you imagine how quickly/widely something like that would travel in today's society. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by anna | 2/13/2014

    " Not as good as Spillover, but still a quick, interesting read. My problem with this book was that he wasn't interested in telling any of the stories surrounding the viruses, or making the text more personal by telling anecdotes connected to traveling all over Asia and Africa doing research; it's a much more didactic text than spillover and subsequently drier and less interesting. One notable fact learned from this book is that humans are as closely related to chimps and bonobos as dogs are to wolves. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Holly | 1/29/2014

    " At first I thought this was too simple, too basic, but I came to appreciate what Wolfe was doing: writing both a primer that gets lay readers up-to-speed and a quasi-memoir in which he recounts some of his own research and pays his respects to his colleagues all over the world (I can see why he's popular in the scientific community and among science-writers/popularizers). To my knowledge there is still nothing out there that replaces Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust on the topic of viruses and public health. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Richelle | 1/23/2014

    " I thought there were some scary and interesting topics here. I guess one important point that was made is that in the past, information about spread of disease, etc. has been from government agencies around the world. Because of trade and travel and how fast diseases can currently spread, that is probably not going to be the most fast and efficient model for the future. "

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About the Author

Nathan Wolfe is the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in human biology at Stanford University and director of Global Viral Forecasting, a pandemic early warning system which monitors the spillover of novel infectious agents from animals into humans. He has been published in or profiled by Nature, Science, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Economist, Wired, Discover, Scientific American, NPR, Popular Science, Seed, and Forbes. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship in 1997, Wolfe was awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) International Research Scientist Development Award in 1999 and the prestigious NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2005.