The End of October

The End of October

by Lawrence Wright


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“An eerily prescient novel about a devastating virus that begins in Asia before going global . . . A page-turner that has the earmarks of an instant bestseller.” New York Post
“Featuring accounts of past plagues and pandemics, descriptions of pathogens and how they work, and dark notes about global warming, the book produces deep shudders . . . A disturbing, eerily timed novel.”Kirkus Reviews

“A compelling read up to the last sentence. Wright has come up with a story worthy of Michael Crichton. In an eerily calm, matter-of-fact way, and backed by meticulous research, he imagines what the world would actually be like in the grip of a devastating new virus.” —Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

“This timely literary page-turner shows Wright is on a par with the best writers in the genre.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

In this riveting medical thriller—from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author—Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525658658
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 2,265
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

LAWRENCE WRIGHT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, a screenwriter, and the author of ten books of nonfiction, including The Looming Tower, Going Clear, and God Save Texas, and one previous novel, God's Favorite. His books have received many honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.


Austin, Texas

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1947

Place of Birth:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


B.A., Tulane University, 1969; M.A. (Applied Linguistics), American University in Cairo, 1971

Read an Excerpt

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

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