FlyTitle: Pandemics of yore

Five books of science and history that cast light on covid-19

通过五本科学和历史书理解新冠疫情【新冠报道】

经济学人双语版-如何理解瘟疫 How to understand a plague

Pale Rider. By Laura Spinney (Public Affairs; Vintage). The Spanish flu pandemic that began in 1918 killed around 50m people in a few years—more deaths than in the preceding four years of world war. Young adults seemed to perish disproportionately from what was an especially virulent strain of the influenza virus. Doctors could do very little about the sickness, so countries closed their borders and blamed each other. This book tells the story not only of the devastation at the time, but also of the century of scientific detective-work that was required to understand why the episode was so deadly.

《苍白骑士》,劳拉·斯平尼著(公共事务出版社;Vintage)。1918年开始的西班牙流感大流行在几年内导致约五千万人死亡——比之前四年里世界大战的死亡数还多。因这种特别致命的流感病毒而丧生的年轻人数量似乎高得不成比例。医生对这种疾病几乎毫无办法,各国因而关闭了边境,互相指责。这本书不仅描绘了当时的惨状,还讲述了人们为了解这起事件何以如此致命而在一个世纪内开展的科学探索工作。

Spillover. By David Quammen (W.W. Norton; Vintage). Some of the outbreaks of disease that have caused most distress among human beings have come from animals. Other, non-human primates were the source of HIV; influenza transferred from birds, and coronaviruses from bats. When the human immune system is newly confronted with something that has just hopped the species barrier—a so-called zoonosis—it can be overwhelmed. By tracking the origin of several zoonoses, this book explains how such diseases emerge, why they are so dangerous and where in the world the next ones might arise.

《致命接触》,大卫·奎曼著(W·W·诺顿公司;Vintage)。在给人类带来最多苦难的疫病中,有一些的源头是动物。其他非人类灵长目动物是艾滋病病毒的来源;流感由鸟类传给人类,冠状病毒源自蝙蝠。当一种刚刚跨越了物种屏障的疾病——所谓的人畜共患病——来袭之时,人类的免疫系统可能无力招架。这本书追踪了几种人畜共患病的起源,解释了这些疾病如何出现、为何如此危险,以及接下来它们可能会在世界的哪个角落冒头。

The Rules of Contagion. By Adam Kucharski (Basic Books; Wellcome Collection). Today, the freedoms and daily routines of many countries are held in the hands of epidemiologists. Amid the pandemic, these mathematical modellers have supplied scenarios for how travel bans, social distancing or stay-at-home policies could alter the trajectory of covid-19. This book charts the history of this now-pivotal science, from its origins in understanding the spread of malaria at the turn of the 20th century, to its central role in predicting the dissemination of everything from diseases to fake news in the 21st.

《传染的规律》,亚当·库查尔斯基著(Basic Books出版社;卫尔康收藏馆)。今天,许多国家的自由和日常事务都掌握在流行病学家手中。在眼下这场大流行病中,这些做数学建模的人给出了种种模拟场景,演示旅行禁令、社交隔离或让人们待在家中的政策如何改变新冠病毒的发展轨迹。这本书记录了这门目前处于核心位置的科学的历史——从它起源于20世纪初对疟疾传播的探究,到21世纪它在预测从疾病到假新闻等各种事物的传播中起到的核心作用。

A Journal of the Plague Year. By Daniel Defoe (Oxford University Press). A diary of one man’s life in 1665, when the bubonic plague swept through London, killing almost 100,000. The book recounts the progress of the disease as it transforms the city, describing streets that are either eerily empty or filled with the sounds and smells of suffering. Defoe was only five in 1665 and wrote the book, which blends historical detail and imagination, more than 50 years after the event. He is thought to have based it on the contemporaneous diaries of his uncle, Henry Foe.

《瘟疫年纪事》,丹尼尔·笛福著(牛津大学出版社)。这是一个人在1665的生活日记。当时腺鼠疫席卷伦敦,造成近10万人死亡。这本书讲述了这种疾病如何一步步改变了城市。书中描画的街道不是空旷得可怕,就是充满了苦难的声音和气味。1665年笛福仅五岁,这本书是他在50多年后写下的,其中有历史细节,也有想象。一般认为他的记述是基于他叔叔亨利·福(Henry Foe)在那个时代的日记。

The End of Epidemics. By Jonathan Quick and Bronwyn Fryer (St Martin’s Press; Scribe). Published two years ago, this book’s simple message ought to have been more widely heeded: planning, preparation and open communication count for everything when it comes to ameliorating the vast social and economic damage that a new infection can cause. Using insights from previous outbreaks, the authors offer lessons on how global institutions can best co-ordinate to predict, model and prevent future pandemics. ■

《流行病的终结》,乔纳森·奎克和布朗温·弗莱尔著(圣马丁出版社;Scribe出版社)。这本书出版于两年前,它传达的简单观点按理说早就该被广泛听取了:要缓解一种新型感染可能造成的巨大社会和经济损害,规划、准备和开诚布公的沟通交流至关重要。作者运用从以前的疫病中获得的见解,为全球机构如何更好地协作以预测、建模并防范未来的大流行病提供了经验。