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David Quammen 8 Years After "Spillover"

What might the humanities teach us about a global health crisis? In this conversation, acclaimed science journalist David Quammen speaks to Samantha Dwyer about how the arts and sciences can inform and comfort us, while we search for action and meaning. Attention is also given to rural states, as we watch national urban epicenters peak. This program is made possible through a partnership between Humanities Montanaand MTPR.

To hear the conversation between David Quammen and Samantha Dwyer, click the link above or subscribe to our podcast.

About the Book: 

The next big human pandemic—the next disease cataclysm, perhaps on the scale of AIDS or the 1918 influenza—is likely to be caused by a new virus coming to humans from wildlife. Experts call such an event “spillover” and they warn us to brace ourselves. David Quammen has tracked this subject from the jungles of Central Africa, the rooftops of Bangladesh, and the caves of southern China to the laboratories where researchers work in space suits to study lethal viruses. He illuminates the dynamics of Ebola, SARS, bird flu, Lyme disease, and other emerging threats and tells the story of AIDS and its origins as it has never before been told. Spillover reads like a mystery tale, full of mayhem and clues and questions. When the Next Big One arrives, what will it look like? From which innocent host animal will it emerge? Will we be ready?

Credit Lynn Donaldson
David Quammen

About the Author:

David Quammen’s sixteen books include The Tangled Tree, The Song of the Dodo, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, and Spillover, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award. He has written for Harper’s, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Book Review, Outside, and Powder, among other magazines, and is a contributing writer for National Geographic. He wrote the entire text of the May 2016 issue of National Geographic on the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem—the first time in the history of the magazine that an issue was single-authored. Quammen shares a home in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife, Betsy Gaines Quammen, an environmental historian, along with two Russian wolfhounds and a cross-eyed cat. Visit him at

About the Interviewer:

Credit Phoebe Haefele
Samantha Dwyer

Born and raised in Montana, Sam earned her Master of Arts in literature, with a minor in art and an emphasis in science from the University of Montana. She loves finding the humanities connections in a broad array of topics and fields. Sam originally worked at Humanities Montana from 2011-2016 before taking two years to teach ceramic arts at The American International School of Muscat in Oman, returning to Missoula in 2018. In her role as program officer, Sam plans a variety of programming, including Montana Conversations and Montana Center for the Book programs. She is always looking for new partnerships that will help bring the humanities to more Montanans.

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