“Bitten” Makes Many “Best of 2019” Book Lists
By Dorothy Kupcha Leland
Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons, by Kris Newby, got a lot of attention when published last May. Much of it came from the Lyme community, happy to see important questions being asked and seriously researched.Additional interest came from reporters and reviewers in the general press. Especially after Congressman Chris Smith spoke about it from the floor of the US House of Representatives.
Recently, a number of “Best of 2019” lists have brought new recognition to this important book.
Here’s a sampling:
“My favorite biomedical read of the year chronicled a quest to uncover whether tick-borne infections were weaponized by the U.S. government during the Cold War. This book has all the ingredients of a good science thriller, including a compelling personal backstory (author Kris Newby’s interest was sparked by her own experience with Lyme disease; Newby is also a science communicator at Stanford); poorly understood disease-causing microbes; a mysterious scientist conducting possibly-nefarious research; Swiss bank accounts and medical experiments on conscientious objectors.
“But the best thing about Bitten is that it has prompted action in the real world. Last summer, after the book hit the news, the U.S. House of Representatives boosted funding for Lyme disease research and passed an amendment to investigate past bioweaponization of ticks, including asking whether infected ticks were ever accidentally released into the wild.”
Bookworm (from Business NH Magazine)
“It’s not cheating to put together Bitten by Kris Newby and Mosquito by Timothy C. Winegard in one Best Of, because they really belong side-by-side on your shelf. Newby’s book is about all the things that can bite you and maybe kill you. Winegard’s book is about one thing that bites and kills more humans than any other creature. How can you resist books like those?”
This is a website that curates non-fiction book recommendations. It puts “Bitten” as #1 on its list of “62 Best Public Health Books of All Time.”
STAT is a online news outlet that focuses on health and medicine. In June, it put Bitten as #8 on its list of The 23 best health and science books to read this summer.
Goodreads, a book recommendation website, also republished STAT’s list. Here’s what the STAT reviewer said:
“Bitten is a riveting narrative that digs into the origins of the Lyme disease epidemic. It connects many dots with compelling evidence and page-turning storytelling that point to the likelihood that a bio-weaponized tick program gone awry could have contributed to the more virulent forms of tick-borne illnesses that have been wreaking havoc on unwitting people for the past five decades. Doctors are not well-trained on tick-borne illness, diagnostics are inadequate, and there are no career tracks in the field other than a few courageous pioneers. Biotech is largely on the sidelines. Yet millions of people are being disabled. Perhaps this book will help stir some action. After all, we all are just one bite away from a nightmare illness.”
My 2 cents
So, there you have it–from reviewers who don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight. I didn’t personally create a “Best of 2019” book list. But if I did, Bitten would certainly be on it. Here’s the review I wrote last May:
If you haven’t yet done so, I suggest you make reading Bitten your New Year’s resolution for 2020.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.