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Books That Should Be On Every Doctor’s Shelf

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, Jun 30, 2021.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

    Mar 5, 2019
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    Reflecting on a year of COVID-19, pandemic life, and social distancing, it seems like every moment of the past year was spent coping with radical uncertainty in the field of medicine. While many practicing physicians had never contended with a pandemic up until this point, there have been numerous examples throughout human history — some not so distant. Many well-researched books have even been published on the subject.


    While the pandemic seems to be ebbing in the US at the moment, it rages overseas. We are definitely not out of the woods yet. More importantly, are we adequately prepared for what comes after COVID-19? These seven books provide valuable insights from history, as well as the present moment, to equip physicians for whatever pandemic comes next.

    “COVID 19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One”
    Debora Mackenzie

    Mackenzie is a veteran science journalist, with an educational background in biology, electrophysiology, and pharmacology. She’s also a frequent contributor to New Scientist. In her latest book, “COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One,” Mackenzie argues that the past 30 years were sufficient prologue to ward off the pandemic. SARS, MERS, H1N1, Zika, and Ebola should have been an adequate epidemiological education, she writes. The book puts forth ideas for how to adequately prepare for the inevitable next virus, and raise the global level of awareness about viral threats.

    “The Rules of Contagion”
    Adam Kucharski

    “The Rules of Contagion” explores the factors that drive outbreaks of all kinds, including illnesses as well as fake news, financial bubbles, or a YouTube video. Kucharski is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical medicine. He takes a mathematical approach to understanding infectious disease outbreaks. It’s his data-driven analysis that makes “The Rules of Contagion” so compelling. In the book, Kucharski reveals the scientific underpinnings of viral and memetic outbreaks, and offers guidance on how to respond to them.

    “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present”
    Frank M. Snowden

    Snowden is a professor emeritus of history and history of medicine at Yale University. “Epidemics and Society” takes readers on a sweeping historical journey from the Black Death through HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola. Snowden presents how each major disease outbreak shaped the course of medical and social history, including the arts, religion, war, and the way we think. Other themes include the evolution of medical therapy and mass hysteria. Snowden also reflects on our preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

    “The Great Influenza—The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History”
    John M. Barry

    “The Great Influenza” is a comprehensive account of the confluence of factors–social and biological–that created one of the deadliest pandemics of recorded history: the 1918 influenza outbreak. Barry, the author, has written books on a diverse array of topics, including the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the theologian Roger Williams. In “The Great Influenza,” Barry explains how a swiftly mutating virus and President Woodrow Wilson’s WWI efforts combined to help the virus thrive, infecting 500 million and killing 50 million worldwide. Barry explains the political complications and competing narratives that ultimately worsened the pandemic’s outcome in the US.

    “The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance”
    Laurie Garrett

    In addition to authoring “The Coming Plague” Garrett is a pulitzer-prize winning American health journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy Magazine, among others. “The Coming Plague” features interviews with virologists, molecular biologists, disease ecologists, and physicians to form a rallying cry to the fight against infectious disease. Published in 1994, the book feels like a premonition of the present moment. The book also features field research that takes readers from sub-Saharan Africa to Central America.

    “Between Hope and Fear—A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity”
    Michael Kinch

    As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues in the US, Kinch’s “Between Hope and Fear” may be the perfect book to read. Kinch is the director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Washington University in St. Louis. In “Between Hope and Fear,” he examines immunity, vaccine denial, and the fallout of failing to vaccinate. That fallout includes measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough all rearing their heads from pre-schools all the way up to universities. The culprit? Parents declining to vaccinate their children. Kinch points out that this may erode our progress in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases.

    “Epidemics: The Impact of Germs and Their Power over Humanity”
    Joshua Loomis

    Loomis is a PhD and assistant professor of biology at East Stroudsburg University. He earned his PhD in microbiology and immunology from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. “Epidemics” examines how diseases have shaped society, focusing on technology, social interactions, religious traditions, and general history. Loomis’ work highlights how microscopic parasites are actually the major change-makers of humanity’s time on earth.


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