The stories these citizens tell are truly hair-raising. There is a wide variety of experiences here -- a hospital cleaner, a grieving mother, a doctor, a volunteer at a health station, a defiant rebel. Some remain faithful to the Party despite everything they've gone through, others became totally disillusioned, others were always inclined to be suspicious of power. But all their stories of the chaos and cover-ups, the desperation and horror of those early days, are vivid and terrifying.
Deadly Quiet City includes an appendix timeline compiled by Australian academic Clive Hamilton, which has really convinced me that the 'bat in the wet market' line doesn't really stand up, and perhaps the 'virus escaped from the lab' story might be the correct one after all. But Deadly Quiet City isn't just a book about a breaking pandemic -- it's also a book about what it's like to live in China, in a tightly controlled society, many of whose members are content to trade personal freedoms for security. As a person who inclines towards favouring safety myself, it's made me think twice about the costs of living under a one party state.