Seven Modern Plagues
5.5 x 8.25
5.5 x 8.25
Epidemiologists are braced for the big one: the strain of flu that rivals the pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed at least 20 million people worldwide. In recent years, we have experienced scares with a host of new influenza viruses: bird flu, swine flu, Spanish flu, Hong Kong flu, H5N1, and most recently, H5N7. While these diseases appear to emerge from thin air, in fact, human activity is driving them. And the problem is not just flu, but a series of rapidly evolving and dangerous modern plagues.
According to veterinarian and journalist Mark Walters, we are contributing to-if not overtly causing-some of the scariest epidemics of our time. Through human stories and cutting-edge science, Walters explores the origins of seven diseases: mad cow disease, HIV/AIDS, Salmonella DT104, Lyme disease, hantavirus, West Nile, and new strains of flu. He shows that they originate from manipulation of the environment, from emitting carbon and clear-cutting forests to feeding naturally herbivorous cows "recycled animal protein."
Since Walters first drew attention to these "ecodemics" in 2003 with the publication of Six Modern Plagues, much has been learned about how they developed. In this new, fully updated edition, the author presents research that precisely pinpoints the origins of HIV, confirms the link between forest fragmentation and increased risk of Lyme disease, and expands knowledge of the ecology of West Nile virus.
He also explores developments in emerging diseases, including a new chapter on flu, examining the first influenza pandemic since the Hong Kong flu of 1968; a new tick-borne infection in the Mid-West; a second novel bird flu in China; and yet a new SARS-like virus in the Middle East.
Readers will not only learn how these diseases emerged but the conditions that make future pandemics more likely. This knowledge is critical in order to prevent the next modern plague.
"Dr. Walters tells the tale of each disease like a detective story . . . . [The book] draws compelling, even disturbing, connections between disease and forces as implacable as population growth, deforestation, and modern lifestyles that consume fuel, meat, and acreage at an ever-growing pace."
New York Times
"A fascinating work of ecological journalism, utterly convincing in its argument: that our health and the health of the environment are intimately linked, and we overlook that link at our peril."
Michael Pollan, author of "Second Nature" and "The Botany of Desire"
"Refreshingly, this latest book explores the underlying shifts in human ecology and behavior that have potentiated recent epidemics…Walters achieves a balance between environmental science, clinical medicine, human interest, and social comment."
"Fascinating and readable …[A] great introduction to the topic."
"Mark Jerome Walters weaves a fine thread of human disturbances through the quilt work of modern pandemics. After being drawn engagingly into the explosive symptoms of global environmental change, readers will come to understand that we have no choice but to make peace with nature."
Paul Epstein, M.D., Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School
"[Walters's] writing is excellent, light and in easy-to-read style, and the case history in each chapter is fascinating to read."
San Francisco Book Review
Chapter 1. The Dark Side of Progress: Mad Cow Disease
Chapter 2. A Chimp Called Amandine: HIV/AIDS
Chapter 3. The Travels of Antibiotic Resistance: Salmonella DT104
Chapter 4. Of Old Growth and Arthritis: Lyme Disease
Chapter 5. A Spring to Die For: Hantavirus
Chapter 6. A Virus from the Nile
Chapter 7. Birds, Pigs, and People: The Rise of Pandemic Flus
Epilogue: MERS-CoV and Beyond
I’m overjoyed to be back at Island Press this semester, and not just because I get to continue my love affair with the UPS machine. The writing and marketing skills that I developed last semester in my internship with Island Press served me incredibly well over the summer, so I jumped at the chance to spend another semester refining my skills in such a friendly work environment. This semester, I’ve been able to delve further into the research side of publicity: finding publications and identifying reporters who might be interested in covering Island Press books.
From my experience with Seven Modern Plagues last spring, I knew that research was necessary for marketing plans, but I never realized how much of effective publicity boils down to planning. This semester, I learned how to use both Cision and internet searches to identify potential media outlets and reporters, and organized this information into spreadsheets. Because of this emphasis on planning, my work at Island Press this semester has allowed me to hone my organization skills. I learned to plan every step of the marketing process, from properly prioritizing tasks to making sure that galleys were mailed to the proper media contacts.
Beyond planning, what I’ve gotten out of this internship are the foundational skills that are vital in the workplace and the confidence to execute them successfully. I no longer agonize about sending an email to a potential employer or professor or worry that signing my correspondence “All Best,” makes me sound anything but professional. Being tasked to quickly summarize material or put together Tweets or a press release has gone from a source of worry to work that I know that I can quickly and cleanly knock off of my To Do list.
My time at Island Press has surpassed any of my other internship experiences. Working here is something special, and something that I will really miss in coming semesters. From the moment I walked in the door on my first day, I felt welcome and comfortable enough to ask the million questions that I had, which was something I had not experienced in the workplace.
I’m thankful that I got the chance to work with such a warm and welcoming group of people, especially Jaime and Meghan, who bestowed their marketing wisdom on me with a smile and patiently tolerated a million questions and mail merge tutorials.
Publicity and marketing associate at Island Press; avid reader and tea drinker.
This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their responses below, and use code 4MAGICAL for 25% off and free shipping all of the books below, as well as books from participating authors.
What’s your favorite Island Press book? Share your answer in the comments.
My favorite IP book—not that I’ve read them all—is Mike Lydon’s Tactical Urbanism. This book shows how ad hoc interventions can improve the public realm, especially if they’re later made permanent. I discussed the concept on the latest Spokesmen podcast with architect Jason Fertig and illustrator Bekka “Bikeyface” Wright, both of Boston.
Last year I wrote a cover story for SIERRA magazine about how Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border would all but eliminate any chance for recovering jaguar species in the Southwest. In the course of my research I came across Alan Rabinowitz's An Indomitable Beast. It's a great read, blending Rabinowitz's own experiences as a big cat biologist with cutting-edge findings on this amazing species. As a writer, this book and its amazing details helped me bring the jaguar to life for readers.
This day is a time for reaching beyond data and logic to think about deeper ways of knowing. Love, specifically, but I would add to that faith, tradition and ethics. That's why I love Aaron Wolf's new book, The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Conflict. Going beyond the mechanical "rationality" of the typical public meeting is necessary if we are to address the big issues of global sustainability and the smaller issues of how we sustain our local communities. Aaron Wolf provides the experience, tools and promise of a better, deeper approach.
Like many others, I am indebted to to Island Press for not one but three books that profoundly influenced my thinking. Panarchy (2001, edited by Lance Gunderson and C.S. Holling) introduced me to the concept of socio-ecological systems resilience. Resilience Thinking (2006, by Brian Walker and David Salt) taught me what systems resilience really means. And the follow-up book Resilience Practice (2012) helped me start to understand how systems resilience actually works. The latter remains the most-consulted book on my shelf—by Island Press or any other publisher—and I was thrilled and frankly humbled when Brian and David agreed to write a chapter for our own contribution to the field, The Community Resilience Reader (2017).
"A large percentage of my urbanism bookshelf is comprised of Island Press books, so it's very difficult to share my love for just one! So, I won't because the books we pull of the shelf most often these days are the NACTO Design Guides. Finally, a near complete set of highly usable and mutually supportive design standards that help us advocate for and build better streets, better places."
Nicols Fox's Against the Machine is a book that’s becomes more relevant each year as technology impinges ever further on our daily lives. It’s a fascinating, deeply researched look at how and why people have resisted being treated as extensions of machines.
Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols. I read this book several years ago. It is so important to hear the voices of those whose lives are impacted by industrial age pollutants, lest we slide into complacency. In this case, the story of the chemicals of Lake Michigan. It is a short, beautifully written, disturbing read.
—Emily Monosson, Natural Defense and Unnatural Selection
Peter Gleick’s series, The World’s Water, is one of the most useful surveys of the cutting edge of global waters there is. Each edition brings in-depth coverage of the issues of the day, always eminently readable and backed up by the crack research team that he puts together for each topic. I use it in my classes, always confident that students (and I) will be kept abreast of the best of The World’s Water.
—Aaron Wolf, The Spirit of Dialogue
Mark Jerome Walters' important book, Seven Modern Plagues, places great emphasis on linking emerging diseases with habitat destruction and other forms of modification natural processes. This book is a call for us to recognize that each new disease reflects an environmental warning.
—Andy Dyer, Chasing the Red Queen
My favorite Island Press book is The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life, edited by Eric T. Freyfogle. Perhaps it remains my favorite IP text because it is the first IP text I remember reading front to back, twice! I first encountered the book as a graduate student and was struck my its scope and tone. The book is thought provoking. But it's also a joy to read, which isn't surprising in hindsight given the award-winning contributors.
—Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone
Don't see your Island Press fave? Share it in the comments below!
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.