Here are a few books on epidemics, zombies, and the undead that are well worth reading:
My favorite parts of the book were the discussions of people who brought us to the modern age of epidemiology, vaccines, and antibiotics: Alexander Fleming (whose slovenly habits resulted in the discovery of penicillin); Louis Pasteur (who figured out how fermentation worked, disproved the theory of spontaneous generation, and solved the riddle of rabies vaccination); Jonas Salk (who developed a polio vaccine); Paul-Louis Simond (who discovered the link between the plague and fleas on rats); and John Snow (the world's first epidemiologist who proved the source of a terrible cholera outbreak in London), among others. This review was based on a review copy from LibraryThing.
This book documents one of the first instances where modern scientific inquiry (making decisions based on empirical observations and deductions instead of superstition) resulted in a public health response. London eventually developed its underground sewer system once people realized the connection between drinking water and sewage.
Rodney v. Death, which chronicles how one doctor attempted the impossible to save a girl from rabies, a disease with a 100% fatality rate once full-blown symptoms have developed. This is a fascinating examination of the disease, how medical advances are made, and the amazing interaction between humans and viruses.
Zombies & the Undead
Of course, a post on the undead in popular literature is not complete without mentioning the trifecta of guilty pleasure vampire reading: the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and the Vampire Lestat series by Anne Rice (the original pop culture vampire phenomenon).
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