Gabriel Scheff Explores the COVID-19 Pandemic’s Origins in ‘Wuhan 2019’ [REVIEW]

Wuhan from above
Wuhan from above (Photo courtesy Canva)

In autumn 2019, a sportswriter travels to Wuhan, China with his crew to cover the CISM games. But what they find there will be more than just an athletic event. For something dark and deadly lies in wait, anxious to surface and fulfill an old Mongolian prophecy that threatens to afflict the world.

Gabriel Scheff's WUHAN 2019
GWS Books

With Wuhan 2019, Gabriel Scheff delivers a fictionalized account of what transpired in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Basing the action on his own personal experiences while in China during that fateful autumn, he also incorporates carefully researched facts to provide us with a book that is quite literally ripped from the headlines. The result is a tale that is equal parts thriller, travel guide, and history lesson.

From page one, I found Scheff’s writing style insightful, thoughtful, and fascinating. Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Wuhan, which is a city with a population even greater than that of New York City. And yet, as Scheff points out early on, I wasn’t alone in my ignorance. In fact, most of the world failed to know Wuhan existed. Thus, I found the exploration of the Chinese people and their culture rather intriguing.

That being said, if you aren’t in the military, you may not know what the CISM Games are either. Only a relative few seem to. Founded by the French, the acronym stands for the Council of International Sports du Militaire, and like the Olympics, these Military World Games are held every four years and feature 27 sporting events. In fact, many of the athletes involved compete in both the CISM Games and the regular Olympics.

I am grateful Scheff explains exactly where he takes creative liberties in each chapter with the section, “Fact or Fiction,” located at the back of the book. It proves very helpful in providing us with the particulars about which characters are real and which are completely fictitious. This is a necessary element to this type of novel, which could be easily mistaken for pure fact. Still, the book does an excellent job about putting us on the ground in Wuhan so we can witness how our most recent history began.

Scheff’s debut novel is a fascinating piece of literature that looks inside the origins of the pandemic. It addresses how other plagues have altered the course of history in the past and serves as reminder of what may yet come in the near future. If you enjoy books that entertain, thrill, and ultimately leave you smarter than you were when you began reading them, Wuhan 2019 will be right up your alley.

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Gabriel Scheff is a retired Army officer and journalist. His most challenging assignments included the London Olympics, the winter games in Sochi and the Military World Games in Wuhan.

His favorite pastimes include surfing, tennis, gardening, shooting and sailing. He also enjoys historical fiction and action-adventure thrillers.

Born near Pittsburgh, he now lives near the beach in Delmarva. He is currently working on the history of Herald Harbor and a novel about America’s first railroad, titled Raising Steam.

For more information, visit Gabriel Scheff on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Gabriel Scheff

WUHAN 2019
By Gabriel Scheff
244 pp. GWS Books. $12.99.

Purchase Wuhan 2019 direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, or Walmart.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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