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“Biss' essays about the immunization debate range from the personal to the body politic and back again. Drawing on her experiences as a mother and employing an astonishing diversity of sources, Biss plumbs our ancient fear of infection. Acknowledging the permeability of both our borders and bodies, she arrives at the conclusion that 'immunity is a shared space-a garden we tend together.' Biss' precise language and wry humor make On Immunity as engaging as it is informative.”
— Brooke Alexander, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
A New York Times Best Seller
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
A Facebook "Year of Books" Selection
One of the Best Books of the Year
* National Book Critics Circle Award finalist * The New York Times Book Review (Top 10) * Entertainment Weekly (Top 10) * New York Magazine (Top 10)* Chicago Tribune (Top 10) * Publishers Weekly (Top 10) * Time Out New York (Top 10) * Los Angeles Times * Kirkus * Booklist * NPR's Science Friday * Newsday * Slate * Refinery 29 * And many more...
Why do we fear vaccines? A provocative examination by Eula Biss, the author of Notes from No Man's Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear-fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected-our bodies and our fates.
Praise for On Immunity: “Biss ably tracks the progress of immunization. . . . Biss also administers a thoughtful, withering critique to more recent fears of vaccines—the toxins they carry, from mercury to formaldehyde, and accusations of their role in causing autism. The author keeps the debate lively and surprising, touching on Rachel Carson here and ‘Dr. Bob’ there. She also includes her father’s wise counsel, which accommodates the many sides of the topic but arrives at a clear point of view: Vaccinate. Brightly informative, giving readers a sturdy platform from which to conduct their own research and take personal responsibility.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A thoughtful and probing analysis of the cultural myths surrounding vaccination. Biss mines within herself and within her community to understand how and why such myths gain traction in society." —Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine Praise for Notes from No Man’s Land
“The most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the twenty-first century . . . It is strident and brave in its unwillingness to offer comfort . . . It is unimpeachably great.” —Kyle Minor, Salon
“I fought with this book. I shouted, ‘Amen!’ I cursed at it for being so wildly wrong and right. It’s so smart, combative, surprising, and sometimes shocking that it kept me twisting and turning in my seat like I was on some kind of sociopolitical roller coaster ride. Eula Biss writes with equal parts beauty and terror. I love it.” —Sherman Alexie
“A beautiful exercise in consciousness; in bringing both intelligence and experience to bear on a subject that has implications for the way one behaves in the world.” —Los Angeles Times