The best vaccine books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about vaccines and why they recommend each book.

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How to Make a Vaccine

By John Rhodes,

Book cover of How to Make a Vaccine: An Essential Guide for Covid-19 and Beyond

John Rhodes, author of The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease now offers us a timely, concise, and easy-to-digest book that spans the history of vaccines, including the recent development of mRNA vaccines now on the frontlines of efforts to quell the COVID-19 global pandemic. Rhodes' experience and expertise in immunology and vaccine development show in his clear and easy-to-understand explanations of how vaccines work and why they are an essential public health tool.

How to Make a Vaccine

By John Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make a Vaccine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the world, changing our relationship to our communities, to our jobs, and to each other, the most pressing question has been-when will it end? Researchers around the globe are urgently trying to answer this question by racing to test and distribute a vaccine that could end the greatest public health threat of our time. In How to Make a Vaccine, an expert who has firsthand experience developing vaccines tells an optimistic story of how three hundred years of vaccine discovery and a century and a half of immunology research have come…

Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 


I wrote...

Biotechnology: In Context

By K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner

Book cover of Biotechnology: In Context

What is my book about?

Life is ancient, grounded in the physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology of Earth. In contrast, today's biotechnology marshals new ideas and techniques with the potential to reshape the planet and life itself. The problems facing the world in fighting hunger, pollution, and disease cry out for innovative scientific solutions. For many, biotechnology offers a beacon of hope. For others, the manipulation of life sounds like a siren's song of peril.

Vaccine

By Arthur Allen,

Book cover of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Most of us can’t even pronounce the names of the childhood diseases vaccines have almost eradicated, nor can we imagine the parental grief, and childhood suffering, that those diseases routinely inflicted on families until well into the 20th Century. This comprehensive history reminds us that the development of vaccines was always a see-saw between life-saving advances, and terrible mistakes and failures.

Vaccine

By Arthur Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vaccine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vaccine juxtaposes the stories of brilliant scientists with the industry's struggle to produce safe, effective, and profitable vaccines. It focuses on the role of military and medical authority in the introduction of vaccines and looks at why some parents have resisted this authority. Political and social intrigue have often accompanied vaccination-from the divisive introduction of smallpox inoculation in colonial Boston to the 9,000 lawsuits recently filed by parents convinced that vaccines caused their children's autism. With narrative grace and investigative journalism, Arthur Allen reveals a history illuminated by hope and shrouded by controversy, and he sheds new light on changing…

Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.


I wrote...

VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

By Nina Burleigh,

Book cover of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

What is my book about?

Virus is a short book assessing what went wrong with the government response to the pandemic, what went right with the landmark COVID mRNA vaccine science, and the roots of the culture of conspiracy theories and disregard for expertise that has delayed our national recovery.

Do You Believe in Magic?

By Paul A. Offit,

Book cover of Do You Believe in Magic?: Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural: A Look Behind the Curtain

Dr. Offitt invented one of the most important vaccines introduced in recent years, against a common childhood illness rotavirus, that was deadly in developing countries. In this engaging and sometimes very funny book, he takes on the alternative medicine world and makes a strong case for relying on the scientific method. This is a fact-based book you can share to help people assess false claims.

Do You Believe in Magic?

By Paul A. Offit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do You Believe in Magic? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some…


Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.


I wrote...

VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

By Nina Burleigh,

Book cover of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

What is my book about?

Virus is a short book assessing what went wrong with the government response to the pandemic, what went right with the landmark COVID mRNA vaccine science, and the roots of the culture of conspiracy theories and disregard for expertise that has delayed our national recovery.

Calling the Shots

By Jennifer A. Reich,

Book cover of Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines

Why do many parents endanger their children by refusing to vaccinate them? They aren’t, writes Jennifer A. Reich, who studied such parents for over a decade. They aren’t ignorant or irrational – they are highly committed to protecting their children, and are trying to make sense of what they hear and know in their environment. Read this book if you want to understand why people selectively hear, mistrust, or reject scientific information, and seek out alternative ‘experts’ who tell them essentially what they want to hear.

Calling the Shots

By Jennifer A. Reich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Calling the Shots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2018 Donald W. Light Award for Applied Medical Sociology, American Sociological Association Medical Sociology Section
Winner, 2018 Distinguished Scholarship Award presented by the Pacific Sociology Association
Honorable Mention, 2017 ESS Mirra Komarovsky Book Award presented by the Eastern Sociological Society
Outstanding Book Award for the Section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity presented by the American Sociological Association
A rich, multi-faceted examination into the attitudes and beliefs of parents who choose not to immunize their children
The measles outbreak at Disneyland in December 2014 spread to a half-dozen U.S. states and sickened 147 people. It is just one recent…


Who am I?

In the summer of 2017 I went to see the Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France and a tourist spot for over 200 years. But this dramatic and overwhelming glacier had all but melted away and I found myself in a dry valley a mile across and half a mile deep – concrete evidence of global warming. It was one of the most disturbing experiences I have ever had. As a philosopher and historian of science, I dedicated myself to discovering how and why people were accusing reputable scientists of dishonesty, incompetence, and aloofness while staring at the evidence. The answer is not simple, and requires a lot of telling and hearing stories.


I wrote...

The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority

By Robert P. Crease,

Book cover of The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority

What is my book about?

Rejecting scientific authority is an established feature of US life. Politicians and ordinary citizens find that conclusions of the scientific “workshop” collide with their agendas, and treat science as their political opponent. Astonishingly, science denial is difficult to deter because its practitioners exploit well-known vulnerabilities in science itself.

This book uses the stories of ten remarkable individuals – a surprisingly diverse group who include Mary Shelley, Kemal Atatürk, and Hannah Arendt – to explain how this came about, and what will be necessary to change it. These ten individuals confronted severe problems with scientific authority and took action. Some risked their lives. Taken together, their stories show why the dwindling authority of science is as threatening to human life, and what can be done to keep our world from falling apart. 

Overload Flux

By Carol Van Natta,

Book cover of Overload Flux

Mix a couple of strong, mysterious characters with a dangerous quest and you've got me. It's a plot where I had to pay attention as the danger ratchets up with betrayals and twists and turns that kept me guessing. There's enough detail in settings and tech to convince without any info dumps and the romance is an integral part of the story. Loved it.

Overload Flux

By Carol Van Natta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Overload Flux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the cure for a deadly disease is stolen, two misfits are all that stands between greed and intergalactic tragedy.

Luka Foxe can’t let anyone know about his secret mental abilities. Debilitated by their influence when faced with violence, the brilliant forensic investigator now only takes assignments involving theft. But when he has to hunt down a hijacked vaccine for a galaxy-wide pandemic, the tragic first clue is his best friend’s brutal murder.

Nightshift guard Mairwen Morganthur knows she must keep a low profile. The product of illegal genetic alteration, she’s a lethal weapon with no social graces. But when…


Who am I?

For me, writing space opera was obvious because it's what I like to read. There's so much scope for human and non-human societies out there, complete with the history of how they were created, and the inevitable cut-and-thrust of politics. If the book also has a love story– where do I pay my money? I do like the science in my science fiction to be convincing, though. My background as a computer programmer helps with that and I'm often grateful for my history degree when coming up with convincing empires and events. 


I wrote...

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy

By Greta van der Rol,

Book cover of The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy

What is my book about?

Brilliant systems engineer Allysha Marten takes a job on the mysterious planet Tisyphor, where a security guard wins her trust and her affection. Together, they uncover a plot that threatens to plunge the Galaxy into inter-species war. As they scramble to prevent the coming holocaust, Allysha is horrified to learn that her new lover is ex-Admiral Chaka Saahren, the man responsible for the death of her father, along with millions of other innocent civilians.

In a race against time, Saahren must convince Allysha to set aside her conflicted emotions about him to help him prevent the coming conflagration. And perhaps while he’s doing that, he’ll win back the only woman he’s ever loved.

Microbe Hunters

By Paul de Kruif,

Book cover of Microbe Hunters

We live in the most medically protected time in human history. Before about two hundred years ago, we were utterly helpless against infectious diseases – we could neither see nor conceive of what caused them. This book, written in the 1920s, tells in vivid prose, the story of the discovery of microbes, beginning with the Dutch businessman who ground the first lenses enabling the human eye to see the “animalcules” that Louis Pasteur and others eventually matched with their deadly effects, enabling humanity to begin to fight back.

Microbe Hunters

By Paul de Kruif,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Microbe Hunters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“It manages to delight, and frequently to entrance, old and new readers [and] continues to engage our hearts and minds today with an indescribably brand of affectionate sympathy.”—F. Gonzalez-Crussi, from the Introduction

An international bestseller, translated into eighteen languages, Paul de Kruif’s classic account of the first scientists to see and learn about the microscopic world continues to fascinate new readers. This is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered the microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them. De Kruif writes about how seemingly simple but really fundamental discovers of science—for instance, how…

Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.


I wrote...

VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

By Nina Burleigh,

Book cover of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

What is my book about?

Virus is a short book assessing what went wrong with the government response to the pandemic, what went right with the landmark COVID mRNA vaccine science, and the roots of the culture of conspiracy theories and disregard for expertise that has delayed our national recovery.

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