I’ve been a big fan of Kurt Andersen’s Studio360 over the years, and the American Icons series includes some of his best work. His musings on Moby-Dick, (check out Moby-Dude!), The Wizard of Oz, Appalachian Spring, and Emily Dickinson are my favorites.
This is one of the scariest books I’ve read in a long time—and it’s not fiction! Published in 2002, it chronicles the strange tale of Smallpox, its world-wide eradication, and the lingering threat of its return. Millions are alive today thanks to the efforts of D. A. Henderson (2) (who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002), the World Health Organization, and an army of public health workers. Smallpox is probably the worst disease the human race has ever known, and now it’s gone—well almost… The demon lives on in at least two freezers, one at the CDC in Atlanta and one in Russia. But there is no way to know how many other caches exist. In a cruel twist of fate, the fact that smallpox no longer exists “in the wild” makes it well suited for bioterrorism! It is the biological eqivalent of an atom bomb, and perhaps worse. This New Yorker article by Preston summarizes the major themes of the book.
My first Web publishing effort. A series of short chapters describing medicine in the late 1800s and early 1990s. Dr. Rohlf was my grandfather’s mentor and partner. He was known as “Uncle Bill” in my family, although he wasn’t a blood relation.
Visit the site at gmd.rathe.org!