The Ebola Inferno: A Review of Dr. Hatch's Memoir

I just finished another Ebola memoir by an American doctor who battled the virus during the West African outbreak. Inferno: A Doctor's Ebola Story by UMass's Dr. Steven Hatch is much more than patient vignettes and is really an intimate window into how an academic infectious disease physician fared against a deadly virus. 

Dr. Hatch's book moves from his first pre-Ebola visit to Liberia in which he was tasked with building medical capacity in a country ravaged by a recent civil war to his return to the country in the midst of the Ebola outbreak.

It is now almost cliche to say that the usual measures didn't work in Liberia because of the populace's distrust of the government and that one-size-fits-all solutions don't exist. Dr. Hatch unpacks that statement by weaving into this narrative an important discussion of the origins of Liberia and the civil war. As Dr. Hatch demonstrates, both of these factors distinctly shaped the response to the virus as did the Christianity and animistic beliefs of the population. 

Another aspect of the book that bears highlighting is Dr. Hatch's unfortunate navigation of the myriad details regarding his return to the panic-stricken US and the inanity of bureaucracies that were responsive less to science than to pandering politicians. 

I highly recommend the book.