It is a difficult task to write a book about an ongoing event in which what are believed to be facts are regularly found out to not be so when truths are constantly modified by new contexts. Such is the case with the current Zika epidemic and the task that The New York Times' stellar global health reporter Donald McNeil Jr. took on with his newly released book Zika: The Emerging Epidemic. McNeil superbly executed his task.
This short book is an expertly written guided tour of not only the ongoing epidemic and its vicissitudes, but also the history of this once relegated virus. Throught the work, McNeil covers unfolding events play-by-play, something that is extremely useful to those who, unlike me, do not follow outbreaks like sports games (it is useful to those who do as well). McNeil delves into the controversy that truly existed regarding the causal role of Zika in the development of microcephaly prior to the virus's meeting of the definitive Shepard's Criteria.
One of the chief values of the book, to me (beside the fact his reference 160 is to the work of my colleagues and me), is that McNeil provides a much needed exploration of the issues surrounding the recommendations, issued by some countries, for women in Zika-laden areas to delay pregnancy and the hesitancy of others to not follow suit for various reasons.
This book is must reading for those following the Zika outbreak, those wanting to learn about it, and those wanting to immerse oneself in excellent scientific writing.