Virtual Event: Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley
Until Proven Safe:
The History and Future of Quarantine
moderated by CYNTHIA GRABER
July 29, 2021
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes GEOFF MANAUGH—author of the New York Times bestselling A Burglar’s Guide to the City—and award-winning writer NICOLA TWILLEY for a discussion of their co-authored book, Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine. Their conversation will be moderated by award-winning writer and radio producer CYNTHIA GRABER.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Until Proven Safe on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Until Proven Safe
Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley have been researching quarantine since long before the COVID-19 pandemic. With Until Proven Safe, they bring us a book as compelling as it is definitive, not only urgent reading for social-distanced times but also an up-to-the-minute investigation of the interplay of forces—biological, political, technological—that shape our modern world.
Quarantine is our most powerful response to uncertainty: it means waiting to see if something hidden inside us will be revealed. It is also one of our most dangerous, operating through an assumption of guilt. In quarantine, we are considered infectious until proven safe.
Until Proven Safe tracks the history and future of quarantine around the globe, chasing the story of emergency isolation through time and space—from the crumbling lazarettos of the Mediterranean, built to contain the Black Death, to an experimental Ebola unit in London, and from the hallways of the CDC to closed-door simulations where pharmaceutical execs and epidemiologists prepare for the outbreak of a novel coronavirus.
But the story of quarantine ranges far beyond the history of medical isolation. In Until Proven Safe, the authors tour a nuclear-waste isolation facility beneath the New Mexican desert, see plants stricken with a disease that threatens the world’s wheat supply, and meet NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, tasked with saving Earth from extraterrestrial infections. They also introduce us to the corporate tech giants hoping to revolutionize quarantine through surveillance and algorithmic prediction.
We live in a disorienting historical moment that can feel both unprecedented and inevitable; Until Proven Safe helps us make sense of our new reality through a thrillingly reported, thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of freedom, governance, and mutual responsibility.
Praise for Until Proven Safe
“As Twilley and Manaugh reveal in this timely but timeless, ambitious and flawlessly executed account, quarantines have shaped our history—shifting geopolitical boundaries, fomenting racial hatreds, facilitating authoritarian control. The struggle to protect ourselves from invisible and deadly contagions is waged daily and largely out of sight—along borders and spore superhighways, in biosecure piggeries and nuclear waste facilities a half-mile underground. Quarantine: boring to live through, unbelievably interesting to read about.” —Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Grunt
"Strap on your plague beaks and round up the loose women! In this intrepid, occasionally creepy jaunt through seven centuries of disease control, Twilley and Manaugh prove that the past is never dead; it’s just in quarantine." —Alexis Coe, New York Times bestselling author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington
“Until Proven Safe combines history, geography, epidemiology, and the ethics of space exploration―how can this be? Because, as the authors explain in a very entertaining and wide-ranging way, quarantine, ironically enough, crosses borders of space and time to make a complex knot of stories. Timely, eye-opening, provocative—you will see the world differently after reading it.” —Kim Stanley Robinson, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning novelist, and author of Ministry for the Future
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