cover image Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine

Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine

Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley. MCD, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-12658-2

BLDGBLOG blogger Manaugh (A Burglar’s Guide to the City) and Gastropod host Twilley take a riveting and timely look at how humanity has protected itself by isolating segments of its populations. Quarantines, they write, have “always been a stimulus for creatively rethinking the built environment,” and while the authors cover the response to Covid-19, they also survey the ways animals avoid infecting others, agricultural safeguards against diseases that could decimate food supplies, precautions taken by NASA to not contaminate other planets, and how radioactive nuclear waste can be safely stored for tens of thousands of years. Manaugh and Twilley cull their research into a concise and logical series of recommendations for future public health crises, grounded in a deep appreciation of the human impact of quarantining. Though technological advances in tracking, testing, and containment offer promise for more effective quarantining, the future will likely see more quarantines, and thus will require “a politics and culture of collaboration.” The way forward, they write, will require design creativity, legal reforms that ensure “that the authorities making... promises will deliver on them,” and imaginatively thinking about quarantine as an experience that allows agency. This thoughtful study couldn’t arrive at a better moment. Agent: Nathaniel Jacks, InkWell Management. (July)