To Dr. Peter Hotez’s credit, he braided together three books into “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism” without creating a tome too weighty to be engaging. Hotez — a vaccine scientist and pediatrician — could easily have written a book focused on the folly of the anti-vaccination movement. And he also could have written a book about the history of science behind vaccinations. He also could have further developed a parenthood narrative from his and his wife’s point of view about raising their daughter Rachel, who is autistic.
Because Hotez deftly overlaps these three stories, each is compressed in a way that feels both relatable and comprehensible. The breadth of research and the personal aspect of the book provide a delicate balance.
“I don’t know if it’s a new genre in science books,” Hotez says, “but I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it. It’s a science book, right? That also explains why vaccines don’t cause autism. While also telling a personal story. I can’t say, but my hope is that will make it meaningful to others.”