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Publisher's Summary

"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 best seller." (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, 47 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 worshipers 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 US 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.

©2020 Lawrence Wright (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Mark] Bramhall animates a storyline that's all too real, and all too close to home, and he lends intimacy and immediacy to the epic melodrama that has now become present reality. Any other time - even six months ago - this would have been an urgent cautionary tale. Now, alas, it's the morning's news." (AudioFile Magazine)

What listeners say about The End of October

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful. prophetic, with the heros we need

There is something cathartic about this book that kept me listening nonstop today. As if by listening to an even slightly worse scenario than we are living thru with all the same social, cultural and political issues we are all wading thru every day like oppressive fog, one can experience the grief, anger and other bottled emotions at a safe distance.

Henry Parsons is the hero we all need right now, almost the humble anti hero with his philosophical struggles to do right, and in all the characters we meet thru him in this incredibly suspenseful story. And while telling a tale that so eerily presages the nightmare the world is going thru here in spring 2020, I think its the fantastic characters that kept it riveting. Characters like the unusual saudi prince/physician/soldier Majid whose resigned frustration at the politics beyond his control and musings about religion with Henry surely echo those of millions of others. The submarine crew and captain made me smile. When was the last time the Navy SEALs were in a book that featured them as a mere footnote?

This book a remarkable , moving, suspenseful listen with great depth in both medical science and geopolitical tensions that go far enough to explain without turning into a tech manual. Pacing was fast. I didn't want to miss so much as a sentence. Editing kept the story moving and all the wicked threads coming together in some suprising ways. Narration was excellent and kept me hooked on the content.
The ending was a surprise.
Tom Clancy fans will get a kick out of the book.
Best use of a credit in years.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Started Well but then

I really enjoyed the first about half of this book but it seemed as though the author just couldn’t find an ending. It went on and on and on. Good character development and research but with a highly unlikely ending. Too bad it wasn’t half as long.

10 people found this helpful

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Pandemic on the Page

“The End of October” was surprisingly timely. I learned a lot about viruses and pandemics in the past and, maybe, the future. Who would have expected this novel in the Spring of 2020?

The novel shifts repeatedly between a suspenseful plot about efforts to contain a pandemic and long digressions into the history of various diseases. Some of the plot twists are ridiculous, almost laughable, but so what? They move ahead this fascinating plot. Dr. Henry Parsons is the main character, a physically small but intellectually imposing epidemiologist who knows viruses inside out. He flies to Indonesia to study the breakout of a novel disease that begins in a quasi-prison camp and rapidly spreads to Saudi Arabia and then the world. It’s a flu, not a virus, but otherwise it’s a lot like the current coronavirus. Parson’s wife and children, stuck in Atlanta, are likeable and resourceful as the disease spreads.

There are a lot of politics in the novel, often focused on manipulative government officials and Russian bad acts. There is a Trump-like president, and even Alex Jones makes a brief and revolting appearance. In one touching moment, a scarred woman is looking for someone to kiss her, just because she misses the physical contact.

Wright has written compelling non-fiction, including books I enjoyed on scientology and 9/11. In this novel, the plot helps keep focus on what seems to be deeply reported science.

The narrator was just right, with subtle accenting for the different characters. I especially liked his Minnesota accent for a minor character named Murphy.

8 people found this helpful

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Prescient.

If you like this book, then check out One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I rarely read/listen to fiction, but both books offer valuable information to help plan for the apocalypse 😉

7 people found this helpful

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A good story but..

A good story with many interesting facts but the characters and dialogue made me cringe. I find it’s harder to listen to bad dialogue than it is to read it. I finished on 1.7x speed!

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Wright should probably stick to nonfiction

Started interesting but couldn't keep going. So far from our current reality. Doesn't even use the term social distancing! (haha) also the wife character is awful, all she does is whine "but I want you to come home!" waaaahhhhh over and over and over again

4 people found this helpful

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Engrossing thriller with anticlimactic ending

What a timely thriller for these quarantined times. Overall, I loved the story and pacing, and the plot was easy to follow. The author also goes into the history of pandemics and outbreaks, and does so in an engaging, easy-to-follow way. My only criticism is that the ending felt a little rushed. The last five chapters feel forced and while the overall results are satisfying, there were still some loose ends and a particular subplot that had been building almost the entire novel that was just essentially skipped over (can’t say more than that without giving it away but readers will know once it happens). Overall though, this was a very satisfying listen and one that I was reluctant to ever pause.

4 people found this helpful

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Sooooo boooooooring

See my title. Oh, apparently I have to write 12 more words to submit this.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

written before Covid-19.

As we live in pandemic times, this book reflects much of what is happening today, but was written before SARS-COV-2 started. This virus moves slower in some ways, is far more deadly while not as widespread all at once. The geopolitical impact of Covid-19 is no where near as dramatic but in context it is easy to see how the world could spin out of control.

Don't skip to the end to learn the source of this flu, but after you do Google and you'll understand the real threat this is.

4 people found this helpful

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Prescient and starkly terrifying

I listened to this book twice in a row. I found the story compelling, though I wished some of the lesser characters were more developed. If you've followed the news of the pandemic and knew of the existing risks before this pandemic came, the story seems merely to add a few twists to our current world. To have written it before the pandemic began is terrifying. I fear for our future. I would have been happy to listen to a tale twice as long by this author. He writes well. The reader did a nice job giving characters different voices and accents, though a couple of the different characters voices he used sounded distractingly similar.

3 people found this helpful