On Immunity

On Immunity
An Inoculation
Eula Biss

One of FSG's Favorite Books of 2015
One of the Guardian's Readers' Books of the Year for 2015
Featured in The Millions "Year in Reading 2015" by Parul Sehgal, Saeed Jones, Summer Brennan
One of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014
One of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2014
One of The Millions Most Anticipated Books

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Publishers Weekly PW Pick of the Week

One of Crain's Chicago "40 Under 40"

“Biss’ eye-opening nonfiction work critiques America’s fear of vaccines while examining the connection between soul and body.”Entertainment Weekly, “A Dozen Fall Books We’re Dying to Read”

About the Book

A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book of the Year, now in paperback
In this bold, fascinating book, Eula Biss addresses our fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what may be in our children’s air, food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines. Reflecting on her own experience as a new mother, she suggests that we cannot immunize our children, or ourselves, against the world. As she explores the metaphors surrounding immunity, Biss extends her conversations with other mothers to meditations on the myth of Achilles, Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is an inoculation against our fear and a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.

Additional Reviews

“Subtle, spellbinding. . . . Sontag said she wrote Illness as Metaphor to ‘calm the imagination, not to incite it,’ and On Immunity also seeks to cool and console. But where Sontag was imperious, Biss is stealthy. She advances from all sides, like a chess player, drawing on science, myth, literature to herd us to the only logical end, to vaccinate.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Drawing on mythology, science and her experience as a new mother, Biss commands a compelling argument in defense of vaccination. . . . Biss lends a humane tone to an often fervent debate, considering the symbolism and anxieties around inoculation, interdependency and purity." —The New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row

"Biss finds the common ground underlying the full range of individual decisions. In so doing, she gets beyond the polarizing debate and to the heart of what we are really trying to talk about."—American Scientist

“Eula Biss sanely takes on the anti-vaccine mob.”Vanity Fair

On Immunity: An Inoculation is a philosophical look at the history and practice of vaccination that reads like Joan Didion at her best. If you are yourself a nonfiction author, your initial response to this book might be to decide immediately on another line of work; Biss is that intimidatingly talented . . . .This is cultural commentary at its highest level, a searching examination of the most profound issues of health, identity and the tensions between individual parenting decisions and society.”The Washington Post

On Immunity casts a spell. . . . There’s a drama in watching this smart writer feel her way through this material. She’s a poet, an essayist, and a class spy. She digs honestly into her own psyche and into those of ‘people like me,’ and she reveals herself as believer and apostate, moth and flame.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Reading Eula Biss’s On Immunity forced me to think about the self in relation to others. If the borders of our bodies are in fact porous, what do we owe one another? I expected a book about disease and instead Biss’s brilliant meditation urged me to consider morals in a challenging, beautiful way.” —Saeed Jones, The Millions

“An essential read for both parents and those simply interested in the ideas and science behind vaccination.”Spectrum Culture

"[An] excellent book on vaccination fear."The Atlantic