In this book the author, David Quammen, has demonstrated that epidemiology can be made interesting for the (intelligent) lay man. This book can be very well liked even by those readers who have no background in medicine or biology.
The author follows the course of several events and the trail of medical expeditions to narrate the discovery, confrontation and impact of some the most important infectious diseases of our time. He has taken adequate care to include the names of victims, courageous front-line researchers and places of events -all of which makes the reader more engrossed in the narrative. His account of brave researchers who examined and help contain disease outbreaks -almost always risking their lives- are the most laudable aspect of the book. The author is not thrifty about showering praise on those researchers, doctors and epidemiologists who lost their lives in pursuit of a cure. His account of SARS, malaria, ebola and HIV are particularly interesting. On occasion he uses specialized terminology (and explains them) which leaves the reader a bit more intelligent at the end of the book. This book is relevant, now more than ever, as dynamics of disease encounter and transmission is directly related to human beings' never-ending need to expand on the planet.
The book reads like a thriller/detective story which makes it even more readable to "outside audience". If one were to nitpick: the style of writing is a bit too much like a sensationalist thriller which may put off the serious reader slightly. Then again, not much of the science is diluted and it still makes for a marvelous read. Easily recommended.