Saturday, February 19, 2011

a "perfect storm" of angst

Readers take note. If you're already convinced that vaccines cause autism, that vaccine-preventable infectious diseases no longer threaten children's lives here and abroad, and that certain modern, anti-vaccine gurus are motivated by nothing but tender concern for your family's health, Seth Mnookin's "The Panic Virus" is not the book for you.

If, on the other hand, you want to learn how a "perfect storm" of angst, deception and reckless media fanfare led to years of backlash against childhood vaccines, step right up. It's apt that "The Panic Virus" opens with the quote: "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on." The person who said this, 19th century preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, did not hesitate to rail against the "truthiness" of our age. Nor does Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair whose books include "Hard News," about the New York Times and its scandals.

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