In order to have an understanding of the field of emerging infectious disease and be able to make some sense of the daily vicissitudes of outbreaks, odd cases, and long-standing endemic infections one has to have some sense of the context and history of the field. Having a first person tour guide would be indispensable. That is the role that former CDC official, and now University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health dean, Dr. Ali Khan, plays in his book The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind's Gravest Dangers.
Drawing on a wealth of on-the-ground experience Dr. Khan uses carefully selected cases to illustrate several key concepts that are fundamental to the field. Though the incidents described in each of the chapters were all very familiar to me, they still held a lot of value as they contained Dr. Khan's expert perspective and insights. For example, when describing the management of avian influenza outbreaks on poultry farms, I found the detailed explanation of the business arrangements between farmers and poultry farmers very useful. Similarly, I found Dr. Khan's narrative of the anthrax bioterrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina (specifically his incisive criticism of then Louisiana governor Blanco and New Orleans mayor Nagin) to also hold much value.
Dr. Khan's harrowing experiences involving sketchy planes, dense customs agents (including those in the US), and goats are also entertaining to read about and give the reader the sense of adventure that is inherent in the field -- Dr. Khan describes himself as a "geek version of Indiana Jones." His discussion of his famous zombie campaign is also very fun to read about.
By providing an play-by-play analysis of some of the most significant emerging infectious disease outbreaks in recent decades, the book will hopefully have many reader and inspire others to the endlessly enthralling and intellectually stimulating world of infectious disease.