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The End of October

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The End of October

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Author: Lawrence Wright
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic
Avg Member Rating:
(5 reads / 3 ratings)




At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons--microbiologist, epidemiologist--travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city...

A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare... Already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic... Henry's wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta... And the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions--scientific, religious, governmental--and decimating the population.

As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.


Dear Readers,

The events depicted in The End of October were meant to serve as a cautionary tale. But real life doesn't always wait for warnings. As I write, the entire world is enveloped in a viral disease much like the one I imagined within these pages.

It's been said that the book is a kind of prophecy, but I see it simply as the result of careful research. I asked the question: what is the gravest threat to human civilization? Nuclear war and global warming are existential threats, but throughout history diseases have periodically capsized societies. A century has passed since the 1918 "Spanish" flu that killed between fifty and a hundred million people. What if something like that returned, in our time, where travel is rapid and cities are densely populated and public health has receded as a primary concern?

I have applied the same rigorous standards that I bring to my nonfiction. Nothing presented here as factual is invented. I interviewed many scientists and epidemiologists who are now at the forefront of America's effort to constrain the pandemic. As for the geopolitics I describe, I merely extended trends I observed in the world to certain logical conclusions. I spoke to top government officials and military figures. Everyone I spoke to shared the concerns I expressed herein--something like this could happen. And now it has.

Of course, this book is a novel. One with heroes and villains and a clock ticking in the background. It was exciting to research and to write, and what I learned gave me hope about our institutions and the people who are working to shield us from catastrophe. I was particularly impressed by the ingenuity and courage of the people who have dedicated their lives to public health. It is to them that the novel is dedicated.

I hope you enjoy it.

Lawrence Wright

Copyright © 2020 by Lawrence Wright


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