Simon & Schuster, 429 pages, $26.99
“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” As the opening quote of The Panic Virus infers, bad news travels fast. It’s hard to unscare people, especially those who believe vaccines cause autism, which they don’t. Journalist Seth Mnookin chronicles the case of Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who introduced the idea that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine causes autism. Wakefield has since lost his medical license, the study was retracted, and an investigative journalist has described his work as an “elaborate fraud.” Mnookin also gives an even-handed history of vaccines, why people are so afraid of them and why they are crucial to a healthy world. He also examines how our electronic culture is a hotbed for misinformation. This book probably won’t permeate closed minds, but it’s essential for those who want to learn more about vaccines in our culture and world.