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  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529114188
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $30.00


The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

The definitive story of the worldwide scientific quest to decipher the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, trace its source, and make possible the vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

'A luminous, passionate account of the defining crisis of our time' New York Times

From the bestselling author of Spillover, the book that predicted the pandemic, this is the story of Covid-19 and its fierce journey through the human population, as seen by the scientists tasked with fighting it.

David Quammen draws on countless interviews with experts, including leading virologists, to take us inside the global race to understand SARS-CoV-2, it's ever-changing nature and capacity to kill. In doing so, he explains how new viruses emerge when we disrupt ecosystems and suggests why the coronavirus may be here to stay.

By peering over the shoulders of the brilliant scientists leading the chase, Breathless uncovers the warnings from infectious diseases experts that went unheeded; and which clues are the most compelling in the hunt for the virus' origin.

'A classic...a masterpiece' Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Prize Winner

'A viral howdunnit that is pacy and unafraid to educate readers' Observer

'As close to authoritative history as we have... It reads like a real-time thriller' Chicago Tribune

  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529114188
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $30.00

About the author

David Quammen

David Quammen's sixteen previous books include The Tangled Tree, The Song of the Dodo, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, and Spillover, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and recipient of the Premio Letterario Merck, in Rome. He has written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among other magazines, and is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award.

Quammen shares a home in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife, Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of American Zion, and with two Russian wolfhounds, a cross-eyed cat, and a rescue python.

Visit him at DavidQuammen.com

Also by David Quammen

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Praise for Breathless

A frightening and fascinating masterpiece of science reporting that reads like a detective story

Walter Isaacson on Spillover

Fascinating and terrifying, Spillover is a real-life thriller with an outcome that affects us all

Elizabeth Kolbert on Spillover

A tremendous book... this gives you all you need to know and should know. Quammen's research and analysis makes sensationalism unnecessary

Sunday Times on Spillover

Chilling... [A] brilliant, devastating book

Daily Mail on Spillover

Travelling deep into the rainforest with the scientists hoping to identify the next pandemic pathogen, Quammen's book is plotted like a detective thriller

Gaia Vince, Guardian on Spillover

David Quammen might be my favourite living science writer: amiable, erudite, understated, incredibly funny, profoundly humane

New York Magazine on Spillover

Will likely prove to be a classic in the history of science ... a masterpiece

Stanley Prusiner, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

A supernova in among science journalists

Oprah Daily

[A] tour de force...A luminous, passionate account of the defining crisis of our time - and the unprecedented international response to it.

The New York Times Book Review

As close to authoritative history - from the virus's origins to vaccines and variants - as we have, told through scientists involved, and the signature ease of Quammen's prose. It reads like a real-time thriller.

Chicago Tribune

An expert eye on Covid's past and present [and] a viral howdunnit that is pacy and unafraid to educate readers


[An] engrossing, at times breathless, scientific narrative of the COVID-19


Come for the compelling interviews with key scientists, including Anthony Fauci; stay for the deep dive into the wild and unpredictable world of viruses

Financial Times, *Books of the Year*