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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is […]
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An engrossing and lively history of the fearsome and mythologized virus
In the tradition of "The Emperor of All Maladies" and "The Great Influenza," journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies. In the absence of vaccination-- as was true for thousands of years, until the late nineteenth century--the rabies virus caused brain infections with a nearly 100 percent fatality rate, both in animals and humans, and the suffering it inflicted became the stuff of legend.
The transmission of the virus--often from rabid dog to man--reawakened a primal fear of wild animals, and the illness's violent symptoms spoke directly to mankind's fear of the beast within. The cultural response was to create fictional embodiments of those anxieties--ravenous wolfmen, bloodsucking vampires, and armies of mindless zombies.
From the myth of Actaeon to Saint Hubert, from the laboratories of the heroic and pioneering Louis Pasteur to a journalistic investigation into the madness that has gripped modern Bali, "Rabid" is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of the world's most misunderstood viruses.
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