Epic Measures

One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients.

Jeremy N. Smith

Book

Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease study to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. Leading one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as ambitious as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the charismatic and controversial health maverick found a way to use Big Data to show that the ideal existence isn’t simply the longest but the one lived well and with the least illness. Along the way, he and his colleagues challenged—and changed—the accepted wisdom of major aid groups, the WHO, and the UN, making enemies but also winning some very influential friends in their ongoing crusade to redefine how we see health and well-being.

Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of Murray’s lifelong determination to understand the world’s health problems, told with novelistic verve by acclaimed journalist Jeremy N. Smith. Encompassing wars and famines, presidents and activists, billionaires and billions of people worldwide living in poverty, Epic Measures is the story of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time—and the visionary mastermind behind it.

Author

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.

 

Reviews

“A page-turner that could radically change the way you view health.” —Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

“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 fascinating account of a charismatic visionary.” Kirkus Reviews

“Remarkably entertaining... A giant compilation of ‘who knew?’” —Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times Opinionator

Epic Measures is a fantastic read.” —Bill Gates

“An inspirational tale for everyone.” Publishers Weekly

“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

“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

“A thumping narrative about trends shaping the future.” —Aaron Shulman, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“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