Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time—the groundbreaking program to answer the most essential question for humanity: how do we live and die?—and the visionary mastermind behind it.
Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease studies to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. While it is one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as breathtaking as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the questions it answers are meaningful for every one of us: What are the world’s health problems? Who do they hurt? How much? Where? Why?
Murray argues that the ideal existence isn’t simply the longest but the one lived well and with the least illness. Until we can accurately measure how people live and die, we cannot understand what makes us sick or do much to improve it. Challenging the accepted wisdom of the WHO and the UN, the charismatic and controversial health maverick has made enemies—and some influential friends, including Bill Gates who gave Murray a $100 million grant.
In Epic Measures, journalist Jeremy N. Smith offers an intimate look at Murray and his groundbreaking work. From ranking countries’ healthcare systems (the U.S. is 37th) to unearthing the shocking reality that world governments are funding developing countries at only 30% of the potential maximum efficiency when it comes to health, Epic Measures introduces a visionary leader whose unwavering determination to improve global health standards has already changed the way the world addresses issues of health and wellness, sets policy, and distributes funding.
Jeremy N. Smith has written for the Atlantic, Discover, and the New York Times, among many other publications, and has been featured by CNN, NPR, and Wired. His first book, Growing a Garden City, was one of Booklist’s top ten books on the environment for 2011. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, he is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Montana. He lives in Missoula, Montana, with his wife and daughter.
“Epic Measures is a fantastic read.” — Bill Gates
“Jeremy Smith’s engaging story of a man obsessed with the numbers, and the mortal dramas they tell, reads like a novel and is better than any textbook or survey of this planet’s health.” — Paul Farmer, Co-Founder of Partners In Health and Co-Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School
“Epic Measures is a story of people who believed…that what needed to be done could be done. It’s exciting, well-crafted, and inspirational. Like The Social Network but actually important. Saving a million lives isn’t cool. Y’know what’s cool? Saving a billion lives.” — Hank Green, co-creator and co-host of Crash Course and SciShow
“Jeremy Smith tells an inspiring story of how a simple idea, conceived logically and pursued with grit, can greatly improve the human condition.” — Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
“This book is a crash course in global health mixed with a thriller and a biography. And my goodness, what a made-for-Hollywood character at its core—a brilliant but bristly scientist out to revolutionize the way we conceive healthcare.” — A. J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy and The Year of Living Biblically
“Reading Epic Measures is like spending time with Chris Murray—an intense intellectual treat, the sense of participating in something important, and the thrill of a riveting adventure. For more realism, I recommend reading this book while biking up or skiing down a terrifyingly steep mountain slope.” — Gary King, Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University
“Bold, brash, and brilliant…. In Epic Measures, Jeremy Smith tells a compelling story of the man who led a group of like-minded collaborators, inspired a legion of followers, irritated the establishment, and changed the way the world thinks about health and disease.” — Harvey V. Fineberg, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
“The Global Burden of Disease Study is not only an epic dataset, but also an epic human story…. Through fine reporting and graceful writing, Jeremy Smith reveals the high-stakes story behind the numbers that are transforming global health. — Michelle Nijhuis, co-editor of The Science Writers’ Handbook
“Remarkably entertaining... A giant compilation of ‘who knew?’” — Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times Opinionator
“In public health it is said that what is measured gets done. But what if the measurements were all wrong? This book should be mandatory reading. While others on the beach may have been reading mysteries, I was turning the pages of a true thriller.” — Richard E. Besser, M.D., Chief Health and Medical Editor, ABC News
“We’ve all heard about the rise of Big Data and how it will have big effects. Well, this is the ultimate Big Data project and it could indeed save lives and money-big time!” — Fareed Zakaria, CNN
“A thumping narrative about trends shaping the future.” — Aaron Shulman, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“An inspirational tale for everyone.” — Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating account of a charismatic visionary.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A page-turner that could radically change the way you view health.” — Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies