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At the center of David Quammen’s new book Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus is the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and its life-altering impact on us all. Quammen’s comprehensive account of the deadly disease charts not only its origin story, but also how its mutable nature has had far-reaching consequences for humans around the world. Featuring interviews with nearly 100 scientists, Quammen’s work is a clear-eyed analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic that experts anticipated but the world was unprepared for. In powerful terms, Quammen follows scientists as they discover and study the virus, and as they seek to control it with new vaccines. —Cady Lang

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