Favorable Book Review for Important Public Health Crisis Management Text:

 Book written by Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP

 This book review has been reprinted with the permission of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  It originally appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), 2010;236(5):642.   

Who's In Charge? Leadership during Epidemics, Bioterror Attacks, and Other Public Health Crises

Reviewed by Ronald D. Warner, DVM, MPVM, PhD

Many of us might wonder how we would manage the next public health crisis if it happened in our neighborhood and we were in a leadership position as an elected official or public health authority. Who's In Charge? Leadership during Epidemics, Bioterror Attacks, and Other Public Health Crises is a well researched and easily readable book that offers valuable insight into many leadership challenges that politicians, health authorities, and medical scientists faced when dealing with some large and widely publicized public health crises.

The author first describes and defines the role of leadership in both an elected representative and an appointee. The author then gives a concise and effective review of public health achievements and the histories of biowarfare and bioterrorism. After providing that background, the types and styles of leadership displayed during the 2001 anthrax letters crisis, 1993 water-borne Cryptosporidium outbreak, and 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic are examined. Leadership in other crises (1976–1977 swine flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, foot-and-mouth disease, H5N1 avian influenza, and the current novel H1N1 influenza) is examined in light of scientific uncertainty at the time, zoonotic potential, relationships with the media, legal considerations, and the socioeconomic impact.

In addition to informative time-line descriptions, the author intersperses first-hand accounts from many of the principals (ie, the whys, hows, and lessons learned). All of these are thoroughly documented in the extensive source notes. These narrative accounts and the author's insights into public health leadership are highly recommended reading for all current and future public officials, comparative medical scientists, and anyone interested in crisis management. This text is a valuable contribution.—By Laura H. Kahn.  pages. ABC CLIO, 130 Cremona Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93116. ISBN 978-0-275-99485-3. 2009. Price $49.95.