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Memorial Hall Library

Viral Reads

You may have some concerns and questions about COVID-19, aka coronavirus, the virus that has been rapidly spreading around the globe. For the lastest information about COVID-19, we recommend visiting the Massachusetts Department of Health's website. But if you'd like to read more about how the world has dealt with past epidemics and pandemics, here are some fascinating nonfiction books to check out.


	Pandemics : a very short introduction
Pandemics : a very short introduction
by Christian W. McMillen

The 2014 Ebola epidemic demonstrated the power of pandemics and their ability not only to destroy lives locally but also to capture the imagination and terrify the world. Christian W. McMillen provides a concise yet comprehensive account of pandemics throughout human history, illustrating how pandemic disease has shaped history and, at the same time, social behavior has influenced pandemic disease. Extremely interesting from a medical standpoint, the study of pandemics also provides unexpected, broader insights into culture and politics.

	The pandemic century : one hundred years of panic, hysteria, and hubris
The pandemic century : one hundred years of panic, hysteria, and hubris
by Mark Honigsbaum

Chronicles the last century of scientific struggle against deadly contagious disease—from the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic to the recent SARS, Ebola and Zika epidemics—examining related epidemiological mysteries and the role of disease in exacerbating world conflicts.

	Pandemic : tracking contagions, from cholera to ebola and beyond
Pandemic : tracking contagions, from cholera to ebola and beyond
by Sonia Shah

By tracking the story of cholera, a science journalist and award-winning author explores the origins of epidemics and discusses modern pathogens which have the potential to follow in the disease’s pandemic footsteps. By the author of The Fever. 

	Crisis in the red zone : the story of the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, and of the outbreaks to come
Crisis in the red zone : the story of the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, and of the outbreaks to come
by Richard Preston

The best-selling author of The Hot Zone presents an urgent call to action that traces the deadly Ebola epidemic of 2013-2014 while making cautionary predictions about the future of emerging viruses.

	How to survive a plague : the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS
How to survive a plague : the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS
by David France

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, written by the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name, also shares the poignant stories of gay activists who resolved to make their life battles purposeful. By the author of Our Fathers.

	More deadly than war : the hidden history of the Spanish flu and the First World War
More deadly than war : the hidden history of the Spanish flu and the First World War
by Kenneth C Davis

The best-selling author of the Don't Know Much About History series presents a dramatic account of the Spanish Influenza epidemic that is based on survivor accounts and archival materials to offer insight into how the outbreak catastrophically transformed the world. 

	Pandemic 1918 : eyewitness accounts from the greatest medical holocaust in modern history
Pandemic 1918 : eyewitness accounts from the greatest medical holocaust in modern history
by Catharine Arnold

Describes the outbreak of the Spanish Flu 100 years ago that killed more than 50 million people around the world, including 550,000 in the United States, right in the middle of World War I.

	Get well soon : history's worst plagues and the heroes who fought them
Get well soon : history's worst plagues and the heroes who fought them
by Jennifer Ashley Wright

An irreverent tour of history's worst plagues and the people who battled them includes coverage of the Antonine Plague, leprosy and polio while surveying the lesser-known, bizarre and grotesque details that marked each disease. By the author of It Ended Badly.

	Viral : the fight against AIDS in America
Viral : the fight against AIDS in America
by Ann Bausum

A narrative account chronicling the history of the AIDS crisis in America is presented through the stories of victims and activists who transformed how AIDS is understood and treated throughout the world. 

	Fever year : the killer flu of 1918 : a tragedy in three acts
Fever year : the killer flu of 1918 : a tragedy in three acts
by Don Brown

The award-winning creator of The Unwanted and Drowned City presents a graphic novel history of the devastating Spanish Influenza epidemic and its violent impact on World War I. 

	Bubonic panic : when plague invaded America
Bubonic panic : when plague invaded America
by Gail Jarrow

Documents the 1900 outbreak of the bubonic plague in San Francisco's Chinatown, tracing the efforts of doctors to halt its spread, the political leaders who tried to keep the epidemic from being publicized and the scientists who unlocked the plague's secrets.

	Terrible Typhoid Mary : a true story of the deadliest cook in America
Terrible Typhoid Mary : a true story of the deadliest cook in America
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

In a riveting biography that reads like a crime novel, a Sibert Medalist and Newbery-Honor winner uncovers the true story of Mary Mallon, a.k.a. Typhoid Mary, one of the most notorious and misunderstood women in American history.