A devastating look at the politics of scientific research and a withering condemnation of British farming methods, this is one of the books of the year
Scotland on Sunday
One of the best works of pop-sci of the past decade. Unless you have nerves of steel, just don't eat beef or lamb while you are reading it.... This is the fascinating and moving story of how medical researchers, doctors, veterinarians and anthropologists began to piece together the mystery of what causes prions to mutate and the mechanisms by which prion diseases are spread... Max pulls off the seemingly impossible by bringing these non-living proteins and their ability to wreak havoc on animal and human population vividly to life. He is a terrific storyteller and has the rare knack of making complex and cutting edge science accessible. You don't have to know anything about prions or disease or science to be drawn helplessly into this book, so beautifully does Max give shape to his material. And though the subject matter may, at first, seem gloomy or even prurient, Max's admiration for the creativity and persistence of the scientific detectives who daily grind away in labs across the world inching prion research forward, despite all the politicking, egomania, careerism and lost opportunity of all human endeavour, simply adds to the sense of wonder that so much has been discovered, so quickly.
Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard
From the Same Author
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story
David Foster Wallace is to contemporary literature what Kurt Cobain is to music. He died young enough for his promise and his achievements to solidify into a legend. For many, he became someone worth reading, revering, following.
How had a teen tennis prodigy turned ace philosophy student turned novelist managed to become a generation-defining star? And how painful was that process for him? What was it that he stood for that chimed with so many? And how much did his, and his country’s, addictions defeat him? D. T. Max was determined to find out, and this scrupulous and revealing biographical study, which draws on conversations with those closest to Wallace and on extensive archive material, is the haunting result.