Outbreaks and Pandemics book review
book review

Book Review: Outbreaks and Pandemics

OUTBREAKS AND PANDEMICS by Nicholas A. Daniels, MD. MPH is about how one physician overcame inequities to help people around the world recover from and prevent disease.

Outbreaks and Pandemics

by Nicholas A. Daniels, MD, MPH

Genre: Nonfiction / Science & Medicine

ISBN: 9781639886616

Print Length: 268 pages

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Reviewed by Lisa Parker Hayreh, PhD

An inspiring testament—how one physician overcame inequities to help people around the world recover from and prevent disease

Doctor Nicolas Daniels committed to medicine early on, but his experiences in and around systemic racism and poverty in Buffalo, New York gave him much to overcome. A modern Renaissance man in his youth—performing in sports, dance, music, and theater—Nicholas would later obtain his medical degree and master’s degree in public health and dedicated himself to treating and preventing disease. Later, he is employed with the epidemic Intelligence Service of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In this memoir, Daniels portrays the challenges he faced as a Black individual both in one of the most racially segregated cities in the US and as a physician in the US. He relays his experiences identifying specific diseases responsible for multiple illness outbreaks in the US and in other countries, and he elaborates specific methods of disease transmission and prevention related to each specific illness outbreak discussed. He shares specific expertise on a range of topics including foodborne illnesses, waterborne illnesses, other disease outbreaks, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers recommendations for disease prevention and explicit policy directives to address future disease outbreaks and pandemics. 

This is a highly compelling and informative memoir about an impressive human being. Daniels’ personal and professional achievements are staggering, made all the more inspirational in light of the socio-economic and racial oppression which he and his loved ones endured. 

“The repeated pain and anguish of losing so many close friends shook my world to the core. Most of my childhood friends were either murdered or sent to prison as part of mass incarceration.” 

His compassion for others in the face of his own suffering is extraordinary, and the professional expertise he offers is equally compelling. It’s a special experience to witness his dedication, especially with just how timely the content is in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the government desperately needs to re-evaluate its public health priorities and realize that the public’s health is just as important as our national defense and should be treated as such.” 

Dr. Daniels conveys a palpable sense of urgency about pandemic prevention, sharing specific recommendations to best accomplish these objectives. He is uniquely qualified to urge us to action and to help us effectively prepare for the future.

This book includes a highly technical though thoroughly explained summary of encounters with diseases and the factors driving these disease outbreaks. Although a well-informed and intelligent reader will be able to comprehend the memoir without much difficulty, memoir readers with little experience of medical books may find the scientific discussions of specific illnesses challenging at times.

I found this memoir fascinating, straight-forward, and inspiring. I loved Dr. Daniels’ compassionate and humble voice. Throughout my reading of this memoir, I was consistently impressed with him both as a human and a professional. I would recommend this book to people wanting to read an inspirational true story and also to those with an interest in preventing diseases and pandemics.

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