pandemics | September 08, 2011

A Fictional Film, A Real-Life Threat: Laurie Garrett on Soderberg's Contagion

Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett served as a consultant on Steven Soderbergh’s new film, Contagion, in theaters today, about a team of doctors racing to stop the spread of a deadly airborne virus. It’s a subject for which Garrett, author of the bestselling book The Coming Plague, is an authority. At premiere of the film, which stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett was a surprise hit—drawing endless questions about the likelihood of a real life pandemic.

For the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Laurie Garrett also recently released I Heard the Sirens Scream, a personal and journalistic day-by-day account of the immediate aftermath of September 11th. It was a time when a barrage of often contradictory information on public health concerns put the whole country on edge. Last week, Garrett sat down with NPR's Science Friday to talk about her timely ebook and how the anthrax scare, in particular, changed America.

Laurie Garrett is one of America's most eloquent and forceful speakers on global healthcare, infectious disease, and disease prevention. The only person to win the three "P"s of journalism—the Pulitzer, the Polk, and the Peabody—Garrett makes plain the science behind new threats to public health, both natural and man-made. Her powerful new talk, based on I Heard the Sirens Scream, combines health issues, investigative journalism, and a personal minute-by-minute account of the 9/11 tragedy to offer an astonishing view of a dark chapter in American life.

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