SABRINA SHOLTS at Books Inc. Berkeley

Author image of Sabrina Sholts and cover photo of her book The Human Disease

Books Inc. Berkeley proudly welcomes biological anthropologist Sabrina Sholts to the shop for a celebration of her illuminating new book The Human Disease: How We Create Pandemics, From Our Bodies to Our Beliefs!

How the very fact of being human makes us vulnerable to pandemics—and gives us the power to save ourselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t be our last—because what makes us vulnerable to pandemics also makes us human. That is the uncomfortable but all-too-timely message of The Human Disease, which travels through history and around the globe to examine how and why pandemics are an inescapable threat of our own making. Drawing on dozens of disciplines—from medicine, epidemiology, and microbiology to anthropology, sociology, ecology, and neuroscience—as well as a unique expertise in public education about pandemic risks, biological anthropologist Sabrina Sholts identifies the human traits and tendencies that double as pandemic liabilities, from the anatomy that defines us to the misperceptions that divide us.

Weaving together a wealth of personal experiences, scientific findings, and historical stories, Sholts brings dramatic and much-needed clarity to one of the most profound challenges we face as a species. Though the COVID-19 pandemic looms large in Sholts’s account, it is, in fact, just one of the many infectious disease events explored in The Human Disease. With its expansive, evolutionary perspective, the book explains how humanity will continue to face new pandemics because humans cause them, by the ways that we are and the things that we do. By recognizing our risks, Sholts suggests, we can take actions to reduce them. When the next pandemic happens, and how bad it becomes, are largely within our highly capable human hands—and will be determined by what we do with our extraordinary human brains.


“COVID-19 taught us how the public health impact of pandemics is only a beginning, as they also affect social stability, the security of nations, and a globalized economy. As a distinguished anthropologist, Dr. Sholts provides a unique perspective on how pandemics cause such dramatic shifts in human activity.”
—Peter J. Hotez, Professor and Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine; author of The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science: A Scientist’s Warning
“This is an outstanding history, well and clearly written, which will give you a new perspective on infectious disease, the interaction of pathogens, and both the human body and human cultures—and what we can expect in the future.”
—John M. Barry, author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
“A winning combination of a scientist’s scrutiny, a storyteller’s verve, and an anthropologist’s eye, The Human Disease is an enthralling, evolutionary, fresh take on how we nurture pandemics, and how we should deal with them.”
—Adam Rutherford, University College London; author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold through Our Genes and How to Argue with a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say about Human Difference


Sabrina Sholts is the curator of biological anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where she developed the major exhibit Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World. She has also served as a scientific commissioner for a related exhibition at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France.

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Books Inc in Berkeley
1491 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
The Human Disease: How We Create Pandemics, from Our Bodies to Our Beliefs By Sabrina Sholts, Lonnie G. Bunch, III (Foreword by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780262048859
Availability: In Stock Now - Click Title to See Store Inventory. Please allow up to 48-hours for Curbside Pickup orders to be processed.
Published: The MIT Press - April 9th, 2024