David Quammen is an older white man with a gray mustache. He is standing in front of a snowy mountain range wearing an orange baseball cap. He has his glasses hanging from his mouth and looks pensive.
(Photo: Ronan Donovan)
Adventures in Audio

Humanity’s Most Confounding Survival Epic

David Quammen is an older white man with a gray mustache. He is standing in front of a snowy mountain range wearing an orange baseball cap. He has his glasses hanging from his mouth and looks pensive.

People encounter all kinds of threats in the natural world, but a virus presents an especially ominous challenge. Outside contributing editor David Quammen can attest to that after decades of research on the topic. Quammen forecast a COVID-19–like pandemic in his 2012 book, Spillover, and beginning in the 1980s, he wrote a column for Outside called Natural Acts that had him pursuing fascinating scientific questions around the planet. He eventually took a special interest in zoonotic diseases, traveling to remote jungles and villages where contagions like HIV and Ebola had crossed over from animals to humans. Now he’s back with Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus, a gripping investigation of our battle against COVID. In this episode, Quammen describes why the disease will be with us for a long time and what we can do reduce the risk of future pandemics.


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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.