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The Chimp and the River

How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest

David Quammen (Author)


In this "frightening and fascinating masterpiece" (Walter Isaacson), David Quammen explores the true origins of HIV/AIDS.

The real story of AIDS—how it originated with a virus in a chimpanzee, jumped to one human, and then infected more than 60 million people—is very different from what most of us think we know. Recent research has revealed dark surprises and yielded a radically new scenario of how AIDS began and spread. Excerpted and adapted from the book Spillover, with a new introduction by the author, Quammen's hair-raising investigation tracks the virus from chimp populations in the jungles of southeastern Cameroon to laboratories across the globe, as he unravels the mysteries of when, where, and under what circumstances such a consequential "spillover" can happen. An audacious search for answers amid more than a century of data, The Chimp and the River tells the haunting tale of one of the most devastating pandemics of our time.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35084-5
  • 5.5 × 8.2 in / 176 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“To call David Quammen one of our greatest science writers is to belittle him. He is one of our greatest writers, period.” — Hampton Sides, best-selling narrative historian and editor at large at Outside magazine

“Compelling…[an] utterly gripping story.” — Abigail Zuger, The New York Times

“[An] intense study of the origins of AIDS. With Sherlockian verve… Quammen’s portrait of the real ‘Patient Zero’… is a masterful summing-up of the evidence.” — Nathan Wolfe, Nature

Also by David Quammen All

  1. Book CoverEbola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus


  2. Book CoverMonster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind


  3. Book CoverNatural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature


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