An exhaustive and terrifying story of viral mayhem that will rivet readers.




A sequel of sorts to the landmark bestseller The Hot Zone (1994), this time with a focus on the 2013-2014 Ebola outbreak in the forests of West Africa.

“Viruses are the undead of the living world, the zombies of deep time,” writes New Yorker contributor Preston (Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science, 2008, etc.). In this richly detailed narrative, he plunges readers into the “horrifying chaos” of overcrowded field-hospital wards in Sierra Leone, where “disoriented, infected patients” wander while scientists across the world scurry to identify a contagious disease for which there is no treatment or cure. First detected in 1976 near Zaire’s Ebola River, where it jumped across species into humans, the virus returned with deadly force in the 2013 outbreak recounted here, infecting 30,000 villagers and killing 11,000. Moreover, it posed the nightmare threat of spreading into populous cities. Preston tells engrossing human stories of doctors and patients while providing a clear understanding of Ebola, from its genetic code and mutations to its terrible impacts on victims (fever, paralysis, diarrhea, etc.). In scene after scene, the author vividly re-creates the drama: Villagers throw rocks at epidemiologists during a burial, nearly killing them. A teenage herbalist eerily predicts the deaths of Ebola nurses. French and German scientists struggle to identify the virus. A doctor forgets himself and gets infected while trying to save a child. Cambridge scientists stare at mutations in the Ebola code and try to understand what they are seeing. Doctors are in short supply, nurses abandon hospitals, and villagers text message rumors about “white foreigners” in space suits experimenting on people. “Many didn’t believe in this thing called Ebola,” writes Preston, who also provides sharp portraits of virologists like Lisa Hensley, a longtime Ebola researcher at Maryland’s Fort Detrick, and Sheik Umar Khan, declared a “national hero” for leading Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola, who contracted the disease himself, sparking debate over whether he should be given an untested experimental drug.

An exhaustive and terrifying story of viral mayhem that will rivet readers.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9883-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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