I adored this book for all the awkward reasons at this moment in history.
Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve got a soft macabre heart for books on infectious diseases. Heck, I’ve even read a book about lobotomy, which Wright sort of slips into her book, because why not?
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Jennifer Wright easily recalls Mary Roach – an irreverent gallows humor as regards the most grisly diseases of humanity. Yet, her acerbic wit seems more aimed at the people involved in contagions. For instance, it is the establishment, the fumbling process of containment, the botched medical procedures, the failed leadership surrounding them that get most of her biting criticism. Deservedly so, as we now are living through the days of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.
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Trump will go down in the annals of US history as not learning a damn thing from Spanish Flu (gross underestimation of severity) and the AIDS epidemic (blundering insensitivity to human loss). Though he probably longs for 1918’s high restrictions on free press, Wright’s big takeaway in Get Well is that “the fourth estate’s highest order is to inform the public of contagious diseases.” I’d say that our current press is doing a splendid job keeping Trump accountable. I can’t wait for the next edition of Get Well to read Wright’s addendum on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
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I also loved Wright’s strong stance on vaccination controversy — you might imagine on which side of the aisle she sits.