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The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance Paperback – Oct. 6 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,092 ratings

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Where's your next disease coming from? From anywhere in the world--from overflowing sewage in Cairo, from a war zone in Rwanda, from an energy-efficient office building in California, from a pig farm in China or North Carolina. "Preparedness demands understanding" writes Pulitzer-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, and in this precursor to Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health she shows true understanding of the patterns lying beneath the new diseases in the headlines (AIDS, Lyme) and the old ones resurgent (tuberculosis, cholera). As the human population explodes, ecologies collapse and simplify, and disease organisms move into the gaps. As globalisation continues, diseases can move from one country to another as fast as an aeroplane can fly.
While the human race battles itself... the advantage moves to the microbes' court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn how to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities.
Her picture is not entirely bleak: epidemics grow when a disease outbreak is amplified--by contaminated water supplies, by shared needles, by recirculated air, by prostitution--and controlling disease amplifiers is within our power, a matter of money, people and will. --Mary Ellen Curtin

From Publishers Weekly

Garrett probes the human impact on the environment and the resulting emergence of new and mutating deadly viruses.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0140250913
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books; Reprint edition (Oct. 6 1995)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 768 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780140250916
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0140250916
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 703 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 22.86 x 15.49 x 4.32 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,092 ratings

About the author

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Laurie Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer.

LATEST BOOK: I HEARD THE SIRENS SCREAM: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks, available exclusively as an e-book.


Her journalistic efforts at KPFA-FM radio in northern California garnered the 1977 George Foster Peabody broadcast journalism award, for a series called "Science Story." In 1996 Garrett received the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the 1995 Ebola virus epidemic in Kikwit, Zaire. The following year she was awarded the George C. Polk award for a series of more than 30 articles she published in Newsday, documenting the collapse of health and rise of HIV, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and dozens of other diseases in the former Soviet countries. Her second Polk Award was given in recognition of the reporting in BETRAYAL OF TRUST: The Collapse of Global Public Health.

Laurie Garrett was in graduate school studying immunology when she started reporting, as a sideline, on Berkley radio station KPFA-FM. After a year of this hobby, including the co-production of a radio series, "Science Story," Garrett and colleague Adi Gevins were awarded the George Foster Peabody Award for Broadcasting, the highest such honor for radio. Garrett continued working at KPFA, in multiple jobs including management, reporting, documentary production, and disc jockey. She received multiple awards during this period, including the so-called "Major Award" in broadcasting from the Edwin Howard Armstrong Foundation.

In 1979 Garrett spent a year covering a variety of stories overseas, including the SALT-II nuclear disarmament negotiations between the US and USSR, the World Food Summit in Rome, civil war in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the anti-apartheid activities in the African frontline states, and a long list of outbreaks and disease issues across sub-Saharan Africa. During this period she resided primarily in Lusaka, Zambia, reporting for a variety of news outlets, from Pacifica Radio to the BBC.

From 1980-88 Garrett worked as a Science Correspondent for National Public Radio, based first in San Francisco and then Los Angeles. Her work at NPR, which featured detailed coverage of the unfolding HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US and Africa, was honored with a long list of awards and recognition. Garrett began covering the AIDS epidemic in June 1981, and continuously chronicled the horrible spread of the disease and its toll for more than 20 years.

In mid-1988 Garrett left NPR to join the science writing and foreign desk staffs of Newsday, then the third largest daily newspaper in America. Garrett covered a diverse range of stories all over the world, including: the spread of HIV around Lake Victoria, plague in India, Chernobyl radiation illness in Ukraine, toxic waste in El Salvador, discovery of ancient tombs in the Egyptian desserts, and SARS in Beijing.

In 1996 Garrett was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for her coverage of the 1995 Ebola virus epidemic in Zaire. In addition to the "three P's of Journalism" Garrett's work at Newsday was honored with four awards from the Overseas Press Club of America, and a long list of recognitions from a variety of professional journalism societies. In 2000 Garrett shared with the New York Times' Larry Altman the first Victor Cohn Award for Medical Science Reporting, from the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). Garrett served as President of NASW for two years while at Newsday.


Garrett was born in Los Angeles, a 5th generation Los Angeleno. Garrett is a proud product of public education, having attended public schools and universities in California. She graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Garrett attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at UC Berkeley and did research at Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. Leonard Herzenberg. Her PhD studies, mentored by Dr. Leon Wofsy, focused on measuring T cell responses to variable stimuli.

Garrett did not complete her PhD studies, as her reporting "hobby" in local radio proved far more compelling. Laurie Garrett never attended a school of journalism, though she served on the faculty of the Schools of Journalism at UC Berkeley (academic year 1997-98) and Columbia University (2001).

In academic year 1992-3 Garrett was a Fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health, where she learned a tremendous amount of health science that continues to guide her work today.

In 1995 Garrett received the University of California Alumni Achievement Award.

In 1998 Laurie Garrett was awarded a PhD by Illinois Wesleyan University, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

In 2002 Garrett was awarded a second PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell: Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

In 2007 the University of Minnesota named Laurie Garrett a member of the Delta Omega Society, an honorary public health society.

In 2009 Garrett was awarded a PhD from Georgetown University, Scientiae Doctorum, honoris causa.

In 2011 Laurie Garrett was named one of the "45 Greatest Alumni" of the University of California in Santa Cruz, on the 45th anniversary of the school's creation.


In 2004 Laurie Garrett left Newsday to join the think tank staff of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. She now runs the Council's Global Health Program, and serves as the Senior Fellow for Global Health. Garrett has written several reports and articles including: HIV and National Security: Where are the Links?, A Council Report (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2005), 'The Next Pandemic?' (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005), 'The Lessons of HIV/AIDS' (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005), 'The Challenge of Global Health' (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007), The Future of Foreign Assistance Amid Global Economic and Financial Crisis, A Council on Foreign Relations Action Plan (2009),and CastroCare in Crisis (Foreign Affairs July/August 2010).

AND FINALLY (in the first person)

I am an avid urban cyclist, using a 25 year old Specialized Crossroads for commuting and errands, and a custom titanium Merlin road bike for the real rides. I avidly support the greening of NYC, expansion of bike paths and lowering Brooklyn's carbon footprint.

For several years I was a partner with Havens Wines, located in the Napa Valley. The wines were magnificent, and being in the wine biz -- even merely as one of 14 partners --- was loads of fun. Sadly, we sold Havens Wines a few years ago, and the buyers couldn't make a go of it: Havens no longer exists. But I retain great admiration for skilled wine makers, and love of gourmet meals lubricated with fantastic wines and shared with great friends.

For more than 20 years I have been a strong supporter of the arts in New York, especially performances at BAM. As a BAM patron, I attend as many of the Brooklyn Academy of Music concerts, plays, dances and performances as my schedule will allow.

Brooklyn rules.

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