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Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

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Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selfles Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks, and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they’ve shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember.


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Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selfles Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks, and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they’ve shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember.

30 review for Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wright

    Look: I'm quite fond of it. Five stars out of five, like Dorothy Parker and Oliver Sacks had a word baby. (I also wrote it, but am definitely not biased.) Look: I'm quite fond of it. Five stars out of five, like Dorothy Parker and Oliver Sacks had a word baby. (I also wrote it, but am definitely not biased.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    I know that it´s totally wrong to be amused or even laugh while reading books with such topics, but the author does such a great, entertaining, science-education job by combining the worst nightmares of plague history with wit and satire that it´s difficult to stay serious. The key element here is Big History and that makes it an eyeopener because the medical books are just talking about the strange cures, the history books about the consequences on politics and warfare, the biology books about h I know that it´s totally wrong to be amused or even laugh while reading books with such topics, but the author does such a great, entertaining, science-education job by combining the worst nightmares of plague history with wit and satire that it´s difficult to stay serious. The key element here is Big History and that makes it an eyeopener because the medical books are just talking about the strange cures, the history books about the consequences on politics and warfare, the biology books about how the critters scuttle from victim to victim, but nobody puzzled the elements together until know. It was a combination of ignorance, stupidity, prudery, faith,... that made the illnesses even worse, because by combining stupid or no healing options with ostracizing, stigmatizing and persecuting the suffering humans, it got spread wider than necessary. The narrative arc of each described illness shows all of those aspects, the ideologies that fostered the wrong ideas and the brave doctors and scientists who tried to find real cures instead while facing scorn and occupational problems. One thing must be said about the inventors of freaking crazy theories about how and why who suffers from what, they were pretty creative. Just as right out of a maniac group brainstorming session, those academic trained, teaching, elite professors saw the damage they caused as science and cure and although some of them might certainly have been frauds, many might have believed that they are doing something Hippocratic instead of sadistic and worsening everything. Pandemics and infectious diseases had a huge impact on human history, art, and probably even genetic development, because eliminating large parts of the gene pool and just leaving the fittest or luckiest with random mutations or even build-in resistance survive, changes the composition of a population forever. If the black death hadn´t wiped out large parts of Europe's population, we might still live in a theocracy; if the peoples of the Americas would have been immune to smallpox and other European diseases, colonialization would have been impossible and there would be no US today. Instead, the tribes could have built huge ships to sail to Europe to bring us their plagues on purpose or accidentally and helped our ancestors to find the path close to extinction and we would live in reservations now. There are plenty of possible uchronia settings. The worst case of mismanagement in the 20th century was the reaction to the coming AIDS epidemic that could have been prevented, but instead, Reagan and, in general, many conservative politicians did everything to make it worse and let it escalate. If it would have been a rich, straight, white man´s disease, it would have been cured. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesti... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesti... He was such a loveable person. The only difference to today may be that it were just restricted minds and sheer stupidity and not financial interests (or disinterests in finding cures for diseases nobody in the industrialized, rich countries gets or new antibiotics or cheap generics or...) that torpedoed and deferred progress in medical research. And doctors and scientists don´t get witch-hunted and burned any more if they have the nasty habit of getting pesky and just have to fear the loss of funding, license, job, reputation, and respect. It´s a coincidence that I am writing this review at a moment when the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2... is omnipresent. (and after the 2019 Ebola crisis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kivu_Eb...) It´s just a question of the competence of government and international institutions (sadly no joke); the severity of the new mutation of the virus; herd immunity and vaccination rates and how quickly new vaccines can be developed, mass-produced, and distributed; if it may become a too close, not just platonic friend of the yearly flu epidemic and similar, seasonal epidemics or multidrug-resistant germs or biological warfare agents someone let lying around anywhere (looking at you, certain country with terrible military security measures), or...; how quickly it´s discovered and how far it has already spread, if it´s a zoonosis, where it breaks out, how contagious and deadly it is,... and sheer luck or bad luck how bad that future, coming pandemics will get. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieva... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandemic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infection https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoonosis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_h... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_His...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    With the coronavirus and all the anxiety, this book got pushed up in my reading queue. I am very glad it was because this is terrific. Each chapter is devoted to a different pandemic and the selfless, smart people who saved us. It starts with a plague that I had never heard of that helped bring down the Roman empire, the Antonine plague. Rational and savvy, Marcus Aurelius did all he could to deal headlong with this scourge until he succumbed too. The author, Jennifer Wright is funny and down to With the coronavirus and all the anxiety, this book got pushed up in my reading queue. I am very glad it was because this is terrific. Each chapter is devoted to a different pandemic and the selfless, smart people who saved us. It starts with a plague that I had never heard of that helped bring down the Roman empire, the Antonine plague. Rational and savvy, Marcus Aurelius did all he could to deal headlong with this scourge until he succumbed too. The author, Jennifer Wright is funny and down to earth and clear in her beliefs as she continues through history and describes how each society dealt brilliantly with their catastrophic disease or not so brilliantly. She believes that there is hope for us all as long as we are kind and smart and brave about these things. She bemoans the indifference of some doctors who treat their patients unkindly, saying, "It's perfectly possible to be smarter than everyone else and still be polite and even deferential--women have been doing it for centuries." We need kindness and compassion when we are sick more than ever. She also talks about the importance of a strong government response to the known facts of an epidemic and getting that information to the public. And if the government is lying to the people than we must have brave journalists that get the information out there so we can better defeat the monster, because disease knows no boundaries and doesn't discriminate.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Reading a book on plagues may not be everyone's idea of a pleasurable way to spend their reading time, but that is exactly what I did. While I can't say it was pleasurable, it was certainly intriguing and informative. Plagues, many times changed the course of history, were used in our nursery rhymes , illnesses, like tuberculosis and EL were prevalent in art and literature. Many artists painted pictures of women dying from consumption, painting them as ethereal and haunting, thought beautiful at Reading a book on plagues may not be everyone's idea of a pleasurable way to spend their reading time, but that is exactly what I did. While I can't say it was pleasurable, it was certainly intriguing and informative. Plagues, many times changed the course of history, were used in our nursery rhymes , illnesses, like tuberculosis and EL were prevalent in art and literature. Many artists painted pictures of women dying from consumption, painting them as ethereal and haunting, thought beautiful at the time. Dying of consumption as it was known then was anything but beautiful. The book provides the paths of the diseases, how they were handled at the time, those who fought them, finding cures if possible and what was going on in the world at the time and how circumstances were affected. Loved the set up of this book, each chapter its own illness. She saves the mishandling of the AIDS epidemic for the epilogue, how this was mishandled by the Reagan administration and how so many turned their backs on those dying of this disease. The author attempts to lighten up the gruesome subject matter by inserting pithy comments and commentary. Sometimes these worked for me and I found them mildly humorous, at other times I felt they could have been left out. Actually think the book would have been improved if there would have been less of these. So I am rating this four stars for the well researched information contained within, but making this 3.5 for my persona rating. Definitely worth reading though, I think it is hubris on our part to think that because we have better medicines now, that a plague or epidemic will not strike. Especially since we are being warned about bacteria resistant antibiotics. I was also very surprised to find out that Zimbabwe and fourteen other nations have better inoculation rates against measles, now that many parents are refusing to immunize their children. So scary. ARC from publisher and librarything.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    While entertaining at times, I was wanting more medical science, more about plagues and diseases- rather than commentary on pop culture references. There is a whole host of references in the back and it seems she had done her research-I had just wished she would have included more of it throughout rather than trying to be funny the whole time. I also didn't like the shaming of people in this book who didn't live up to her opinion (yes she even did this after shaming someone to drive it home a se While entertaining at times, I was wanting more medical science, more about plagues and diseases- rather than commentary on pop culture references. There is a whole host of references in the back and it seems she had done her research-I had just wished she would have included more of it throughout rather than trying to be funny the whole time. I also didn't like the shaming of people in this book who didn't live up to her opinion (yes she even did this after shaming someone to drive it home a second time). This is a very accessible read-and would be great for people who just want an intro or overview of a few plagues/diseases.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    There are few plague and pandemic books I can rank up there as my absolute favorites, but this one comes awfully close. Honestly, her clever and quippy and generally knowledgeable demeanor only enhanced the core facts of these "great" diseases that caused so much damage throughout history and closer to home. And there are lots of heroes: People who start using logic and common sense when so little of it is going around. (Cleanliness) People who have more decency in them than practically everyone el There are few plague and pandemic books I can rank up there as my absolute favorites, but this one comes awfully close. Honestly, her clever and quippy and generally knowledgeable demeanor only enhanced the core facts of these "great" diseases that caused so much damage throughout history and closer to home. And there are lots of heroes: People who start using logic and common sense when so little of it is going around. (Cleanliness) People who have more decency in them than practically everyone else. (Kindness) People who buck convention to DO THE RIGHT THING. (Courage) Let's not forget intelligence. But often there is a lot of that going around without the other three and without the other three, YOU'RE STILL DEAD. Or much, much worse off. I totally recommend this book for anyone who's interested in plagues and pandemics. For we who are currently IN ONE, I can't recommend it enough. It's not fearmongering. It's history. The good stuff and the bad. I recommend the chapter on the Spanish Flu in particular. While many of the symptoms and the range are not all that similar to the Coronavirus, people's reactions to it during 1918 IS. Misinformation abounded everywhere. And while today's world isn't quite saddled with 20 years in prison for yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, and journalists aren't locked up for saying a single thing that criticizes the government, we are still dealing with a ton of idiots. Putting your head in the sand and quoting economic reasons to go into work while everyone ought to be in lockdown is not helping anyone. If everyone stayed put there would be no new vectors. But as it is now, a ton of people ARE staying put while another whole segment of society is freaking out about their jobs, passing the coronavirus along AGAIN and spreading out the length of the danger even longer for those who are already in self-quarantine. Can you see a psychology problem here? It's not YOUR job at risk. It's EVERYONE'S LIVES at risk. Ignore the death rate for a moment. Focus on who is most at risk. Children, old people, and anyone with compromised immune systems. If you keep rolling the dice for yourself, you are not the only one you're hurting. The total ignorance of the Spanish Flu, the over-insistence that EVERYTHING IS ALL FINE made it spread like crazy. WWI killed roughly 20 million people. In 1918 the Spanish Flu killed roughly 20 million people. We really need to stop being stupid.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Porton

    Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright is certainly an apposite book for the times. The subtitle is History’s Worst Plagues and Heroes Who Fought Them, I would like to add “and anti-heroes”. Wright’s style is easy to read and very conversational, she also editorialises a bit which is okay by me, nothing like an opinion in my view. Even though she doesn’t appear to come from a medical background, she has referenced countless sources. The list of references starts at the 70% mark on my Kindle. There’s lo Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright is certainly an apposite book for the times. The subtitle is History’s Worst Plagues and Heroes Who Fought Them, I would like to add “and anti-heroes”. Wright’s style is easy to read and very conversational, she also editorialises a bit which is okay by me, nothing like an opinion in my view. Even though she doesn’t appear to come from a medical background, she has referenced countless sources. The list of references starts at the 70% mark on my Kindle. There’s lots of them, so it seems her opinions don’t come from thin-air. This book covers a dozen or so instances in history, of which many are pandemics. Each story contains messages and much food for thought relating to today’s issues we are all facing and wrestling with. The chapters I found the most interesting related to (I’ll only pick 3 – promise!): The Antonine Plague One of my favourite Emperors - Marcus Aurelius – was presented with this massive challenge (amongst so many others, like the Germanic tribes, and his clueless son!). The impact on the economy was significant, less workers, less soldiers to fight the Germanic tribes up North, less farm produce and less tax. The plague damaged the Roman national psyche and caused major economic disruption. Some say, this was the start of the decline of the Empire – however, Aurelius’ nasty and hopeless son Commodus, may have had something to do with that, in my opinion. The author delivers the first lesson of this book saying If a plague is not quickly defeated by medicine, any significant outbreak sends horrible ripples through every aspect of society. A very sobering message indeed. This plague killed more than 100 million people. The Spanish Flu I paid particular attention to this chapter, for obvious reasons - even though COVID-19 is ‘no-flu’. This disease actually originated in Kansas in March 1918, it was unusual in that it killed many, many people in the prime of their life. This flu ”Put people into bed as if hit by a two-by-four, turned into pneumonia, turned people blue and black and killed them". The overwhelming immune response and consequent fluid build-up in the lungs actually kills them. Very similar to comments I heard from a desperate Italian Intensivist on CNN news the other day. The BIG message in this chapter was the importance of providing good information to the public, to distort nothing, to not paint a false-positive picture, to manipulate no one – leadership must make whatever horror exists concrete. Up to 100 million people died. Leprosy This was really, really sad. These poor people were treated terribly, ostracised, left to die. We think perhaps that modern society isn’t capable of this – but cast our minds back to not so long ago to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the attitude towards the gay community back then. But the one massive take away I learned in this chapter was regarding the truly amazing efforts of one Father Damien. This man was made a saint (not something I am usually impressed by, being an atheist), I couldn’t think of a more worthy Saint than this incredible man. I’ll leave you to do your own research on this incredible individual. So, whether it be TB, Polio, Smallpox or many other diseases – there is so much to learn and reflect on here, not so much about the disease itself but the way our leaders, the population and society itself behaves, and the collateral damage these diseases cause. So many lessons. In summary, you won’t learn a great deal about medicine or science in this book. Sure, it touches on these things, but it’s more than that. It is a very easy to read, laypersons, account of some of the most significant plagues of humankind. I found this to be a very interesting and worthwhile read, it also gave me a few chuckles. 4 Stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennyb

    I love a good disease book. Unfortunately, this isn't one. Want to know why? Written in short, declarative sentences, with ample! misplaced exclamations!, too many self-referential "I" sentences, dated pop culture references and sophomoric efforts at humor, it reads like... Well, a sophomore's effort at a book report. Which is to say: it is actually not readable at all. Too bad, especially given that it's clear Wright did a ton of research on these topics. If only the maturity of the research ef I love a good disease book. Unfortunately, this isn't one. Want to know why? Written in short, declarative sentences, with ample! misplaced exclamations!, too many self-referential "I" sentences, dated pop culture references and sophomoric efforts at humor, it reads like... Well, a sophomore's effort at a book report. Which is to say: it is actually not readable at all. Too bad, especially given that it's clear Wright did a ton of research on these topics. If only the maturity of the research effort was matched by maturity in the writing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Yes, I am currently reading 4 books because I have no chill and my anxiety is making it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time. So obviously I want to read about disease. Facinating and insightful non fiction, this manages to present the terrifying reality of plagues and disease in an accessible way with witty comments and playful pictures scattered throughout. It's engaging and quick to read while remaining entertaining and informative - which can often be a difficult line to tread in n Yes, I am currently reading 4 books because I have no chill and my anxiety is making it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time. So obviously I want to read about disease. Facinating and insightful non fiction, this manages to present the terrifying reality of plagues and disease in an accessible way with witty comments and playful pictures scattered throughout. It's engaging and quick to read while remaining entertaining and informative - which can often be a difficult line to tread in nonfiction. It also covers a lot of ground for a short book, taking the reader from smallpox, cholera and the bubonic plague to the currently relevant Spanish flu and beyond. Granted, some chapters were more interesting and well researched than others (I loved the chapters on EL but I work in Neuro so I'm biased, and less so the chapter on lebotomies) but overall I found this broad enough to cover the epic scale of disease and its social repercussions without feeling overwhelming. It piques enough of an interest that if I wanted to I could look up more information on the topics I find most appealing. Not for everyone in the current world climate, but if you're interested in epidemics through the ages this is a good starting point.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    I loved Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them so, so much. In fact, I think it's in my top three non-fiction audiobooks ever. I'm an unabashed science geek, so it's really no surprise that I was drawn to this one. I'm a devotee of authors like Mary Roach, so humor mixed with science-y non-fiction is sort of my weakness. However, even I was pretty amazed at how much I adored this story, even more so because I tend to shy away from anything sad or depressing. Jennif I loved Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them so, so much. In fact, I think it's in my top three non-fiction audiobooks ever. I'm an unabashed science geek, so it's really no surprise that I was drawn to this one. I'm a devotee of authors like Mary Roach, so humor mixed with science-y non-fiction is sort of my weakness. However, even I was pretty amazed at how much I adored this story, even more so because I tend to shy away from anything sad or depressing. Jennifer Wright did an absolutely perfect job of blending facts with witticisms. Some might find her cheeky commentary to be a bit much, but I found her pithy remarks to be smart and on the nose. I loved the way the story was composed, and I loved Jennifer Wright's strong, opinionated take on those on the wrong side of history. I think this book should be required reading for anyone who finds themselves intrigued by the anti-vax "point of view." I'm extremely pro-vaccine and pro-science, and this book is a perfect example of why. We are not past deadly diseases, and our next plaque could be right around the corner. Willful ignorance and anti-science views can be deadly, and this book tells readers exactly why that is. I loved the final chapter on the AIDS crisis, one that my family was personally affected by, and it really resonated with me that the most recent plaque wasn't very long ago. Scary. An excellent audiobook and a perfect narration by Gabra Zackman, who struck just the right tone between didactic and your best friend. Loved this one, and it easily makes my favorites list for this year. goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog

  11. 5 out of 5

    * A Reader Obsessed *

    5 Stars No one is more shocked than I for thoroughly enjoying this because I don’t even come close to being a history buff nor even the occasional dabbler in various such things. To put it succinctly, the real terror is the devastation disease can wreak on the human population, and this highlights some really truly scary awful times and what went oh so wrong but also thankfully, what went right. To say the least, this was highly entertaining in all its gory horror. It was delivered with smarts, hu 5 Stars No one is more shocked than I for thoroughly enjoying this because I don’t even come close to being a history buff nor even the occasional dabbler in various such things. To put it succinctly, the real terror is the devastation disease can wreak on the human population, and this highlights some really truly scary awful times and what went oh so wrong but also thankfully, what went right. To say the least, this was highly entertaining in all its gory horror. It was delivered with smarts, humor, and wit, throwing in pop culture references and apt comments, never making this a tedious lesson to be learned but one that was fascinating in all its revelations. Wholeheartedly recommended, this was a rare gem indeed!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    Great book to start the year on. 5 stars. Should be required reading for every vaccine denier, religious zealot, general hater of anyone with a different lifestyle, or any combination thereof. Wright pulls no punches and has great hopes for mankind. Look at history people. We can’t really afford to repeat it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    "The purpose of this book is not to scare you. Instead, like all good books, it is intended to distract you from the screaming baby one aisle over from the airplane where you are currently trapped for the next five hours." This book was a blast. The history is fun and engaging and crazy. (Did you know that the crazy anti-plague beak doctor costumes kind of worked? I didn't.) And the author's commentary is brash and opinionated and purely entertaining. The Antonine plague: apparently Galen was "The purpose of this book is not to scare you. Instead, like all good books, it is intended to distract you from the screaming baby one aisle over from the airplane where you are currently trapped for the next five hours." This book was a blast. The history is fun and engaging and crazy. (Did you know that the crazy anti-plague beak doctor costumes kind of worked? I didn't.) And the author's commentary is brash and opinionated and purely entertaining. The Antonine plague: apparently Galen was a pretentious coward, and despite his tendency to throw Christians to the lions, Marc Antony was a terrific organiser who at least temporarily saved his empire. The bubonic plague: well apart from the beak doctor costumes, which are awesome, there's this quote: "Shakespeare's brothers and sisters and his son died of the bubonic plague. Theaters were closed due to the plague during his lifetime. Hans Holbein and Titian painted great works before their deaths from the plague. Would they have preferred to live in a time without the Black Death? Yes. (This is not speculative. I called them all and asked.) But life went on in the face of death. Even the Roman Empire was able to endure for a few hundred years after the Antonine plague. Commodus was able to dither around killing ostriches." The Dancing plague: a mysterious illness intriguing with any narration and spiced up by the side commentary on Paracelsus's impressive level of sexism. Smallpox: snarky commentary about how it was feared by men for its mortality and by women for its detriment to appearance, a diatribe about anti-vaxxers, and a "Guns, Germs, and Steel"-type portrayal of the destruction of the Aztecs and Incans. "The devastation of smallpox in the Americas was not due to a vengeful God or a mysterious man bearing an evil box, but rather to the fact that the Amerindians did not spend as much quality time with their domesticated llamas as Europeans did with their cows. Now maybe you are reading these tales of destruction and thinking, Oh, God, I myself do not have a cattle farm, or I am a proud llama farmer (there's got to be one somewhere), and are therefore convinced that you would die if you contracted smallpox because of your sad immune system--and what if terrorists purposefully incubate smallpox and come in a suicidal pact and spread it to us, and we all die and our civilization perishes and everything is very bad? I am with you, citizen! [...] Fortunately..." Syphilis: the amazing lengths to which biographers will go to avoid admitting their subject had the disease, plus the "No-Nose Club." TB: a tirade against the romanticism of the disease. Cholera: a character assassination of John Snow (personally, I think he sounds a bit spectrum and I'd like to have a conversation with him, if only to know how he came up with the idea of veganism about a century before it was a fad). Points gained for never using the phrase, "You know nothing, John Snow" when describing the cholera detective. Leprosy: the truly lovely story of Father Damien, the Leper Priest of Molokai. Typhoid: the rather insane story of Typhoid Mary, the government's attempt to lock her up, and her determination to make ice cream despite it all. The Spanish Flu: apparently it wasn't actually Spanish in origin, but: "An all-American plague hailing from Haskell, Kansas. There is still research that attempts to pin the biggest plague in the twentieth century on anyplace else (guesses range from China to Great Britain), probably because "America's bread-basket" is a much nicer way to refer to the Midwest than "the planet's flu-bin." The most amazing aspect of this particular plague is the incredible lengths the US and UK went to to pretend it wasn't happening, including threatening journalists with jail and/or death. Encephalitis Lethargica: scary scary scary, with the interesting collateral that it may be the disease responsible for a lot of our endless-sleep fairy tales. Lobotomies: not actually a plague, unless you'd consider "hysteria" in women to be a plague, but I think Wright just really wanted to talk about Walter Jackson Freeman II and his penis ring (seriously) and the time he put two ice picks in both eye sockets and hammered them in simultaneously... actually probably the most horrifying chapter. "Feel free to start using Walter Jackson Freeman II as an insult directed towards people you hate. Almost no one will get the reference, but if I am in the room we'll high-five and it will be awesome." Polio: coming after the lobotomy chapter, a rather heartwarming and life-affirming take on FDR, March of Dimes, Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, and the biggest human trial in history. HIV/AIDS: the really depressing state of this current epidemic, our return to demonising the victims and treating the disease as a "judgement" and a consequence of "bad behaviour," as with syphilis. My problem with this chapter is that it really talks only about the disease in the US. In the Congo, it affects a truly horrific percentage of the population, and conspiracies that western governments actually created and spread the disease do nothing to help mitigate it. Even though the book is crazy and funny and lighthearted with in-your-face opinions and irreverent commentary and pop-culture references, I never felt that Wright dehumanized her subjects. Even as she found the crazy comedy in it all, I never felt that she was disrespectful towards the victims or made light of their suffering. Maybe it is because my sense of humour tends towards the morbid, but I don't think comedy is not antithetical to tragedy. Seeing people as rounded and multifaceted and, yes, wacky, enhances their humanity rather than lessening it. I got to the end of the book and was sad that there was no more. I would have thoroughly enjoyed a chapter on yellow fever or measles or mumps or rubella (the namesakes of the now unfairly-infamous MMR vaccine), or meningitis, one of the more frightening diseases of my childhood, or tetanus, aka lockjaw. I suspect Wright would have enjoyed describing tetanic convulsions. My only major complaint against the book is its extreme Western focus. Where was the Plague of Justinian? The Ebola outbreaks in Africa? Malaria in Spain and Africa? What about dengue fever, particularly in the eighteenth century? "History" doesn't mean "Western history," and I really wish more historians would remember it. But other than my greedy desire for more--or perhaps a sequel--I got a huge kick out of the book. If those quotes sound intriguing and you like the conversational style and snark, grab a copy. It's a wild ride. And now I'm off to go request Wright's other book, It Ended Badly, from the library...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    So, those of you who know me are probably not at all surprised that I read or loved this book. I love some interesting sciencey nonfiction, whether it's where we come from, how we live and think and behave, things that kill us (this is one of those!) or what happens to us after we're dead, I likes them. And I love audio for these kinds of books. It's the best of both worlds - I get to learn about something new, and at the same time not get bogged down in footnotes or graphs or what-have-you. Not So, those of you who know me are probably not at all surprised that I read or loved this book. I love some interesting sciencey nonfiction, whether it's where we come from, how we live and think and behave, things that kill us (this is one of those!) or what happens to us after we're dead, I likes them. And I love audio for these kinds of books. It's the best of both worlds - I get to learn about something new, and at the same time not get bogged down in footnotes or graphs or what-have-you. Not that this book would have been that type, and for the most part I have been incredibly lucky that MOST of the non-fiction I've selected have been more interesting and fun than dry and boring (ahem... The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome... Lookin' at you. Informative but not very exciting! Zzzzzz...). This book absolutely falls into the first category. It was delightful. Yes, delightful. A book about illness and death in massive, decimating quantities. A book that describes the ingesting of... excretions, both unintentionally and on purpose, to either unknowingly acquire or seek to prevent said illness and death. Pardon my french here, but, that shit is fucking gross. And yet, still... I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Disgusting descriptions of nastiness aside, this book was about as relatable and personable as I think it's possible to be. I felt like the author was telling me the story of each of these maladies while hanging out with me while I did laundry and cleaned my office. Possibly this had to do with the reader, who I liked, but I think it was that the author's personality and sense of humor and, on occasion, righteous outrage at the shittitude of humanity just came shining through the text and passed through the reader and into my heart via my earholes. I think that Jennifer Wright and I would be friends if we knew each other, though in a way, I kinda do feel like I know her a bit... so maybe we're ALREADY friends! I liked her perspective and her observations of the ways that history shines when dealing with terrible situations, and the ways that it completely and cruelly fucks up. I liked that she called these monsters out as monsters. I like that she views history through the lens of modernity, while still conveying the living reality that these people dealt with, and giving their untimely and often gruesome deaths meaning and historical relevance and context. I liked that she gave credit where it was due, and hailed those who even TRIED to help as heroes, despite human folly and shortsightedness going against their common sense. I liked that this book about plagues and death was so full of life and a good dollop of "let's learn from these stories and do better next time" hope and intelligence. I liked that she did all of this with a wonderful sense of humor, a lot. In short, I really loved this book, and I hope she writes many more just like it. Delightful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This is by far the BEST book on diseases imaginable! It's also one of if not THE best non-fiction book I've ever read. Throughout history, humans have encountered all kinds of diseases. Naturally, we didn't always have the medical tools available to us now. This book details the emergence of a number of well-known plagues as well as how they spread, how bad it got, the steps taken by those trying to find a cure and where we stand now. We thus learn of the antonine plague, bubonic plague, dancing p This is by far the BEST book on diseases imaginable! It's also one of if not THE best non-fiction book I've ever read. Throughout history, humans have encountered all kinds of diseases. Naturally, we didn't always have the medical tools available to us now. This book details the emergence of a number of well-known plagues as well as how they spread, how bad it got, the steps taken by those trying to find a cure and where we stand now. We thus learn of the antonine plague, bubonic plague, dancing plague (mass hysteria), syphilis, leprosy, typhoid fever, influenza and some others. The author introduces us to charlatans as well as serious doctors from a time when their work was more investigative than anything else due to a lack of knowledge. We therefore get to know a host of „cures“ that range from astonishingly close to what we have now to hilariously moronic (even for their day and age). We also meet despicable human beings like Typhoid Mary as well as true heroes like Father Damien (Saint Damien of Molokai). "Greater love hath no man than this that he should lay down his life for his friends. All of the stories are told in a no-nonsense manner that is accentuated with a quirky sense of humour. The author also throws in a number of cultural references to music, plays, books, movies, TV shows etc., showcasing what an all-round knowledgeable person she is. This made reading all the historical data even more delightful. I therefore now know that ice cream sprinkles weren't invented before the 1930 (if you wonder what that has to do with anything, read the book ;P). What I mean by that can be seen from a number of the many quotes I've highlighted. Yes, I'm one of those people who don't faint or get grossed out. For me, there are also no taboos. I'd like to be present during an autopsy - simply because I'm curious and books can only teach you so much (and if I was offered a chance to do some of the work myself, I'd totally do it). I believe that knowledge is one of the best weapons. Hard to read were some of the present-day details. All the diseases that could be eradicated for good by now - and in an affordable way - but aren't, for example. Some of the social commentary was hilarious, too. Like comparing Marcus Aurelius to today's leaders across the globe. Considering what is happening the world over right now thanks to another virus/plague, many of her descriptions of past reactions by people in afflicted zones (and elsewhere) sound as if she was reporting live about today's crisis. So much for humans learning and preparing, I guess. Overall, a fun read, as weird as that may sound considering the subject matter, that is nevertheless full of accurate information delivered in a very down-to-earth and accessible way. I loved this so much that I bought the hardcover right away and I shall thrust this at anyone asking me for a recommendation (and everyone else, too) because I might have a new favourite book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    Sooooo good! Another 5 star book :) "In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syp Sooooo good! Another 5 star book :) "In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs. Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks."

  17. 5 out of 5

    ༺Kiki༻

    If you're interested in plagues and epidemics you're probably already familiar with the diseases in Get Well Soon. The book is light on medical science and heavy on pop culture references. The author's juvenile humour isn't amusing, especially her gleeful shaming of everything she disagrees with. You might also enjoy: ✱ The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have ✱ Awakenings ✱ Beating Back the Devil ✱ The Coming Plague ✱ The Ghost Map ✱ Panic in Level 4 ✱ The Demon If you're interested in plagues and epidemics you're probably already familiar with the diseases in Get Well Soon. The book is light on medical science and heavy on pop culture references. The author's juvenile humour isn't amusing, especially her gleeful shaming of everything she disagrees with. You might also enjoy: ✱ The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have ✱ Awakenings ✱ Beating Back the Devil ✱ The Coming Plague ✱ The Ghost Map ✱ Panic in Level 4 ✱ The Demon in the Freezer ✱ Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus ✱ Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis ✱ Moloka'i (fiction)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Krissy

    I was disturbingly fascinated.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Suanne Laqueur

    (Touches forehead) Do I feel hot? Am I running a fever? I'm running a fever, aren't I. Is that a spot? Is this a lump a buboe? I must be dying... Hypochondriacs will just LOVE this dark, fascinating, terrifying and often hilarious read. You feel like shit for thinking it's hilarious but gallows humor serves a certain purpose. Also, it was meticulously researched out the wazoo: the book ends at 75% and the rest is footnotes and annotations. (Yay, footnotes and annotations!) I felt personal connecti (Touches forehead) Do I feel hot? Am I running a fever? I'm running a fever, aren't I. Is that a spot? Is this a lump a buboe? I must be dying... Hypochondriacs will just LOVE this dark, fascinating, terrifying and often hilarious read. You feel like shit for thinking it's hilarious but gallows humor serves a certain purpose. Also, it was meticulously researched out the wazoo: the book ends at 75% and the rest is footnotes and annotations. (Yay, footnotes and annotations!) I felt personal connections to a lot of the chapters. My great-grandparents were separated a little while. They decided to reconcile but then my great-grandfather was diagnosed with syphilis. His mother-in-law made my great-grandmother divorce him. He died alone and deranged. My maternal grandmother contracted TB right after the birth of my aunt. She went away to the "san" for over six months. My mother was four. She couldn't visit because TB is so contagious. She had to stand on the sidewalk outside the building and my grandmother would go out on this little side porch to wave at her. I had relatives living in Philadelphia when the Spanish flu hit the city in 1918. What the hell was that like? Makes you grateful to be living in the age of vaccines, antibiotics and the Center for Disease Control. (Touches forehead) Am I hot? Am I running a fever?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Who knew that a book on diseases could be so entertaining? Get Well Soon is a compassionate, witty and scary history of plagues. Wright's commentary manages to be scathing and funny without being flippant. She is passionate about the devastation of disease as well as the heroes and villains who have helped or hindered mankind. This is an amazing book - thought-provoking and unputdownable! Who knew that a book on diseases could be so entertaining? Get Well Soon is a compassionate, witty and scary history of plagues. Wright's commentary manages to be scathing and funny without being flippant. She is passionate about the devastation of disease as well as the heroes and villains who have helped or hindered mankind. This is an amazing book - thought-provoking and unputdownable!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    this is some of the best nonfiction I’ve read in a long while. seriously, what a gem. I loved this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I have for a long time been interested in plagues both their causes and results. For instance the Black Death was largely spread by the fleas from the ubiquitous rats in the cities. Just one odd fact I came across (before I read this book) was that since cats were regarded as evil the people in London and other European cities ran around killing cats...thus helping the spread of rats. Here Ms Wright does her best to tell the story of several plagues down through history. While she never belittles I have for a long time been interested in plagues both their causes and results. For instance the Black Death was largely spread by the fleas from the ubiquitous rats in the cities. Just one odd fact I came across (before I read this book) was that since cats were regarded as evil the people in London and other European cities ran around killing cats...thus helping the spread of rats. Here Ms Wright does her best to tell the story of several plagues down through history. While she never belittles the horror here or makes light of the death she does try to keep a certain lightness in the telling itself. I mean like firemen, ENTs, police and combat troops the only way deal with this kind of horror is often with a kind of dark humor. Looking at most plagues since the Black Death and up to (but not covering) the Aids epidemic (she does comment on Aids but doesn't go on to try and detail it) we get some interesting insights. We also meet some interesting people, courageous doctors, quack doctors and plague carries (like "Typhoid Mary" as an example). The book also invites us to consider how long it's been since we've had global population decimating plague...we're over due. Recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    BAM the enigma

    AUDIO READ #6 Absolutely fascinating! Everything is covered from leprosy to lobotomy. Not only are the causes discussed, but also we hear about the conquerors of the horrid diseases that, believe it or not, do not all exist solely in the past. I recommend the audio book; the narrator is excellent. P. S. The epilogue that discusses AIDS is absolutely heartbreaking

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melora

    Initially I was skeptical about this one due to the author's ill-supported claims that the Antonine Plague caused the Roman Empire to fall (“was a very significant contributor to the decline” would have made me less uncomfortable), but, as it turned out, that first chapter was the only one where her “history” struck me as noticeably iffy.* Telling the stories of various plagues throughout history, Wright explores each plague (she includes fourteen of them) from the level of bacteria to that of g Initially I was skeptical about this one due to the author's ill-supported claims that the Antonine Plague caused the Roman Empire to fall (“was a very significant contributor to the decline” would have made me less uncomfortable), but, as it turned out, that first chapter was the only one where her “history” struck me as noticeably iffy.* Telling the stories of various plagues throughout history, Wright explores each plague (she includes fourteen of them) from the level of bacteria to that of governmental response. She tells of individual sufferers, heroic (and not-so-heroic) doctors, politicians, and public health officials, describing how each plague destroyed lives, and how the responses of physicians and bureaucrats helped or hindered the treatment of the disease. She reminds readers frequently of the importance of compassion in dealing with victims of plagues, occasionally to the point of excessive preachiness, but mostly, given the history of human responses to contagious diseases, very reasonably. As she notes repeatedly, blaming the victims is never an effective response to illness. Even in the case of a Typhoid Mary, who, she agrees, showed monstrous irresponsibility in her disregard for disease control, public health officials would have behaved far more usefully if they had provided her with training for a new career rather than simply releasing her back on an unsuspecting public with nothing but her cooking skills with which to support herself. Wright certainly doesn't gloss over the horrors of the plagues she chronicles, but where there are heroes – Father Damiens and Jonas Salks – she dwells on them. Among the most horrific chapters were those on lobotomies (the only “non-disease” plague she includes) and AIDS, where the extent of the suffering was, to an inexcusable extent, caused by the heartlessness of people who truly should have known better, and, conversely, the most inspiring was that on polio, where human intelligence, decency, and public spiritedness combined to defeat a devastating disease. Wright finishes on a note of optimism, convinced that the better angels of our nature will generally triumph over fear and narrow-mindedness. While her efforts at humor occasionally fall flat and I could have done with fewer pop culture references, this was mostly enjoyable and surprisingly uplifting. *ETA: Updating because clearly I've fallen behind in my reading of popular histories of Rome -- just today I've read two articles about how plague IS now considered plausible as an important factor in the "fall" of Rome. (here's a link to an article from the LA Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/... , and Kyle Harper's new book, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, looks very interesting).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    There’s nothing I find scarier, or more fascinating, than a viral epidemic. Growing up, I read books like The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus and I’m still convinced, deep down, that half of humanity will one day be wiped out by an incurable contagion like Ebola. When Ebola itself made a comeback in 2014, I watched with horrified fascination as the disease spread to countries where it had never appeared before, like the United States. Remember Kaci Hickox, t There’s nothing I find scarier, or more fascinating, than a viral epidemic. Growing up, I read books like The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus and I’m still convinced, deep down, that half of humanity will one day be wiped out by an incurable contagion like Ebola. When Ebola itself made a comeback in 2014, I watched with horrified fascination as the disease spread to countries where it had never appeared before, like the United States. Remember Kaci Hickox, the modern-day Typhoid Mary who publicly ranted and raved after being forced into quarantine because she'd come into contact with Ebola patients in West Africa? Hickox jumped on a plane to the U.S., risking possibly infecting those on board, then, forced into quarantine on arrival, became a media fixation. Needless to say, I had no sympathy whatsoever for her. The point where I advocate suspending personal freedoms is when said person is known to have come into contact with carriers of a highly contagious disease with a remarkable kill rate and decides immediately afterward to board a commercial aircraft. Umm, sorry Ebola Kaci, but you just sit your ass in quarantine for a while so we can see if you’ve got the disease, you selfish cad! (Spoiler: she didn't have Ebola, but hey - better safe than sorry.) All of which is to say that I live in terrified awe of diseases. My absolute dream job would have been to work at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Even though I hate Atlanta, I would have put up with it just to work there. With a job like that, I’m not sure I'd have ever been able to sleep again, but still. So I was instantly drawn to “Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them”. Who doesn’t like hearing about the famous killers of the past? Take Encephalitis lethargica, for example. No cure was ever found for this “sleeping sickness” which resulted in those infected falling asleep suddenly while doing common, everyday activities like chewing. Fascinating. Similarly, Spanish Influenza. Like Encephalitis lethargica, no one knew how to cure this highly contagious disease that infected 500 million people worldwide (back in 1918-1920, when the disease ran its course, that number accounted for a whopping third of the planet’s population). But Spanish Influenza wasn’t your run-of-the-mill flu. Unlike the standard flu, which is generally only fatal in the older, sicker population, Spanish Influenza attacked the young and healthy, generally those between the ages of 20-35. Estimates had it responsible for the deaths of as many as 70 million people or 5 percent of the global population. Holy mackerel! What made Spanish Influenza even more destructive were the efforts the U.S. Government went to in order to cover it up. Even the name “Spanish Influenza” is a part of this cover-up. One would think that such a flu must have come from Spain, right? Wrong! In reality it looks to have come from the United States. Desperate to keep American troops flowing to the European front at the end of World War One, the U.S. Government covered up the fact that vast numbers of young men were contracting the flu onboard American ships crossing the Atlantic. Then, once in Europe, U.S. soldiers infected the rest of the continent. The disease is only known as the Spanish Influenza because Spain didn’t take part in the first World War and, as a result, had a truly free press that reported on the outbreak once it hit Spain. So yes, I am clearly this book’s intended audience. What keeps me from giving this book a higher rating is that the author, Jennifer Wright, loves her pop culture references a little too much. Early on, she mentions the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who, she says, was a great problem solver, just like Matt Damon in “The Martian”. Matt Damon? What? That’s just one reference among many. I don’t even remember half of them now because they were stupid and didn’t add anything to the book. Rather than make this feel like a well-researched look into the history of some of the world’s worst plagues, which it largely is, these dated references (less than 3 years on, who really remembers “The Martian”?) make it feel like an old copy of US Weekly. I imagine that Miss Wright is looking to add some comic relief to what is pretty dark material, but rather than adding anything, references like these just take away from what is an otherwise very enjoyable read. Miss Wright ends by talking about the most recent mass epidemic, HIV AIDS, and she's not afraid to get political and point fingers at the Reagan Administration's startling lack of compassion for those afflicted with it. This is a great overview for anyone looking to learn more about "history's worst plagues".

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenna ❤ ❀ ❤

    If a book on plagues, polio, leprosy, and other horrific diseases of (mostly) times past doesn't sound like your idea of an enjoyable read, it's probably because you haven't read Jennifer Wright's extremely engaging and very enjoyable book "Get Well Soon". This book is full of fascinating (and yes, at times gruesome!) details about some of history's worst diseases. Whilst this would normally make for a rather depressing (though still interesting) read, Ms. Wright writes in such a witty manner th If a book on plagues, polio, leprosy, and other horrific diseases of (mostly) times past doesn't sound like your idea of an enjoyable read, it's probably because you haven't read Jennifer Wright's extremely engaging and very enjoyable book "Get Well Soon". This book is full of fascinating (and yes, at times gruesome!) details about some of history's worst diseases. Whilst this would normally make for a rather depressing (though still interesting) read, Ms. Wright writes in such a witty manner that I found myself laughing out loud quite often. Now, this did lead to some feelings of discomfort, I will admit, feelings of guilt that I was finding entertainment in a book containing information of much death and suffering. However, that is not Ms. Wright's purpose as she comes across as a person of great compassion and she never once makes fun or light of people's suffering. Rather, I think her purpose is to enlighten in a way that will captivate readers, to make us aware of just how important it is to take diseases, viruses, and bacteria seriously. Her use of dark humor serves to draw us in, keep our interest, ensure we learn. Disease and suffering are and have been horrific realities of life that we sometimes turn a blind eye to in our sterilized world of antibiotics and vaccines, forgetting that there are still millions suffering with horrible diseases. We must remain dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and science and seek to find cures and vaccines. Fans of Mary Roach will love this book, as I find Jennifer Wright's style to be quite similar.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    I planned on a four star rating but the more I read, the more I liked it. So I gave it 4.5. I've read several books about epidemics, plagues and am always fascinated by how diseases and their victims are treated. The author has done a tremendous amount of research and also has a sense of humor, just enough to get you through some of the horrible aspects of these epidemics. A quote from the leprosy chapter about Father Damien, the priest who went to live and care for the lepers on the island of M I planned on a four star rating but the more I read, the more I liked it. So I gave it 4.5. I've read several books about epidemics, plagues and am always fascinated by how diseases and their victims are treated. The author has done a tremendous amount of research and also has a sense of humor, just enough to get you through some of the horrible aspects of these epidemics. A quote from the leprosy chapter about Father Damien, the priest who went to live and care for the lepers on the island of Molokai, "Damien is a reminder that you don't have to be a genius or a brilliant scientist or a doctor to help in this war against disease: you just have to be someone who gives a damn about your fellow man". In the chapter on the Spanish Influenza she talks about the president who controlled the press and wouldn't allow anything about this massive, deadly epidemic to appear in any newspaper. We should never allow presidents to control the press. Another excellent book on the Spanish Influenza The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I thought the premise for this book sounded really interesting. However, I got about 150 pages into it, and found that it just was not holding my interest. While the author's commentary was humorous at times, for the most part I didn't care for it. Also, I realize that this was an Advance Reading Copy, but truly, it was the worst-edited ARC I've ever read - and I've read more than 100. It was so poorly edited that it was distracting - sentences didn't make sense, words were missing. Maybe that h I thought the premise for this book sounded really interesting. However, I got about 150 pages into it, and found that it just was not holding my interest. While the author's commentary was humorous at times, for the most part I didn't care for it. Also, I realize that this was an Advance Reading Copy, but truly, it was the worst-edited ARC I've ever read - and I've read more than 100. It was so poorly edited that it was distracting - sentences didn't make sense, words were missing. Maybe that had something to do with my disinclination to continue reading. Bottom line: I have too many books on my TBR list to continue reading one that doesn't hold my interest.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Perhaps it is an indicator of my improving mental health (it is), but I really enjoyed this book! In a morbid, worrisome, fun kind of way. Get Well Soon is a book about famous plagues and diseases (and lobotomies? for some reason?) and not only was it a fast, interesting read, it was also funny (obviously, humor is subjective, and I've seen several reviews saying the humor missed the mark for them, but it hit 100% for me—it helps that the audiobook narrator Gabra Zackman has a great deadpan deli Perhaps it is an indicator of my improving mental health (it is), but I really enjoyed this book! In a morbid, worrisome, fun kind of way. Get Well Soon is a book about famous plagues and diseases (and lobotomies? for some reason?) and not only was it a fast, interesting read, it was also funny (obviously, humor is subjective, and I've seen several reviews saying the humor missed the mark for them, but it hit 100% for me—it helps that the audiobook narrator Gabra Zackman has a great deadpan delivery). This is not a hard-hitting in depth examination of any of these diseases, but more of a broad overview, which is fine! I think it worked really well for the format. If I want more info any of these plagues there are books available. She cites many of them in the text of the book. She has a knack for zeroing in on a main point in a chapter, so they all feel really focused. She covers the Bubonic Plague, the Dancing Plague (also, what the hell is with this disease that sounds like something out of a horror movie??), the Antonine Plague, Cholera, Typhoid, Smallpox, Syphilis, Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Lobotomies (which was really interesting, and it works in context), Encephalitis Lethargica (which I had never heard of, and no thank you, please), Polio, and the 1918 Spanish Flu. (She also briefly covers the AIDS epidemic in the epilogue.) One of the best parts of the book is how Wright just calls out everyone who deserves it, dead or alive. A not insignificant portion of this book is just Wright talking smack about historical figures who did dumb or terrible things. But she also goes out of her way to highlight the heroes, as well, emphasizing over and over how one of the most important keys to fighting epidemics is human kindness. Diseases don't respond to fear or shame, and they are not symptoms of moral failing. (I will admit it was disheartening and not a little eerie to listen to the introduction (and to a lesser extent, the epilogue) after COVID-19 has been with us for a year. This book could not have been more prescient if it tried.) I will most definitely be listening to this one again. If you like audiobooks at all, and this sounds interesting, I highly recommend you go that route. I flew through this one. [4.5 stars, rounded up]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    It is not OK for authors to give themselves 5* reviews. It can dramatically skew the ratings for new books and defeats the purpose of Goodreads. Update July 2018: I apologize for upsetting some Goodreads friends with this review. Please see comment stream below for an interesting discussion. I am clearing the 1* rating now, because I appreciate the argument from friends that this undermines my other reviews more than it has any chance of changing behavior/policy on Goodreads. The issue I was brin It is not OK for authors to give themselves 5* reviews. It can dramatically skew the ratings for new books and defeats the purpose of Goodreads. Update July 2018: I apologize for upsetting some Goodreads friends with this review. Please see comment stream below for an interesting discussion. I am clearing the 1* rating now, because I appreciate the argument from friends that this undermines my other reviews more than it has any chance of changing behavior/policy on Goodreads. The issue I was bringing up is not insignificant. Amazon, the parent company of Goodreads, used to have the policy of not allowing sellers-- or even their families--to write customer reviews of their own products. The following article describes the opposition of authors to the policy because of the difficulty of enforcement without creepy spying to determine who is family, etc.: https://gizmodo.com/amazons-review-po.... However, the creepy spying point is moot in the case of an author self-review on Goodreads.

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