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Filmed on Tuesday August 17, 02021

Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twilley

Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine

Geoff Manaugh

Geoff Manaugh writes extensively on design, architecture and the built environment at BLDGBLOG. Manaugh's areas of interest and expertise also includes cities, crime, infrastructure and technology; his writing is featured in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Wired, and many other publications. Manaugh is author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City and his new book with co-author Nicola Twilley is Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine.

Nicola Twilley

Nicola Twilley is a writer known for her curiosity and acumen in uncovering the hidden stories of how our systems and infrastructure work. From the cold chain of refrigeration around the globe, to obscure and amazing stories about the science and history of food, you can find Twilley's writing and reporting at The New Yorker and on her Gastropod podcast. Twilley and Manaugh's new book is Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine.

Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley track the history and future of quarantine around the globe, chasing the story of emergency isolation through time and space—from the crumbling lazarettos of the Mediterranean, built to contain the Black Death, to an experimental Ebola unit in London, and from the hallways of the CDC to closed-door simulations where pharmaceutical execs and epidemiologists prepare for the outbreak of a novel coronavirus.

But the story of quarantine ranges far beyond the history of medical isolation. In their new book, Until Proven Safe, the authors tour a nuclear-waste isolation facility beneath the New Mexican desert, see plants stricken with a disease that threatens the world’s wheat supply, and meet NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, tasked with saving Earth from extraterrestrial infections. They also introduce us to the corporate tech giants hoping to revolutionize quarantine through surveillance and algorithmic prediction.

We live in a disorienting historical moment that can feel both unprecedented and inevitable; Manaugh and Twilley help us make sense of our new reality through a thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of freedom, governance, and mutual responsibility.

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