Was the 2003 SARS outbreak a warning of deadly epidemics to come? Acclaimed author and journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld was on the spot when the disease was discovered. His taut, thriller-like account tells the compelling story of a lethal microbe that learnt to jump between species - from animal to human - with brutal efficiency, killing a large number of its victims and terrifying millions around the world. China Syndrome takes us on a gripping ride from the bedside of one of the first Chinese victims, via cutting-edge labs where the researchers race to identify the new illness, to conference rooms at the World Health Organization as officials desperately try to determine the true extent of the epidemic - despite a scandalous cover-up by the Chinese government. As Greenfeld reveals, the outbreak of SARS - and, now, the convergence of a deadly strain of Avian Flu - is part of a pattern of evidence suggesting that the next pandemic will also emerge from Asia. It could be more virulent and difficult to contain that anything we've ever encountered. And it's long overdue. Is humanity ready?
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Karl Taro Greenfeld, the former editor of Time Asia, is the author of Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation and Standard Deviations: Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Former Time Asia editor Greenfeld was in China when evidence of a new flu appeared at the end of 2002 in the southern city Shenzhen, which had grown from a few thousand to seven million in 20 years, so fast that every one of the central government's development plans failed for lack of time to implement it.^B As China was enjoying a tremendous economic boom, accompanied by mass urbanization, during what is called the Era of Wild Flavor, Shenzhen was also on a wild ride. And there was perhaps no better example of the Era of Wild Flavor than the wild-animal markets that provided restaurateurs and adventurous diners with virtually every species from land, sea, and air. Greenfeld, whose magazine and Web site were off-limits to the Chinese populace, watched and reported on the spread of a highly infectious disease even as the Chinese government squelched, concealed, denied--and gave it the time and opportunity to escalate into a major pandemic. Greenfeld offers little hope that the Chinese have learned any lesson, for it's back to business-as-usual for Shenzhen's wild-animal trade, and he ponders the nature and purpose of viruses as he paints a rather gloomy picture of what we and the World Health Organization can expect next. Donna Chavez
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