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Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creaturesby Carl Zimmer
Synopses & Reviews
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites control the minds of their hosts, sending them to their destruction.
For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Yet these creatures are among the world's most successful and sophisticated organisms. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer deftly balances the scientific and the disgusting as he takes readers on a fantastic voyage. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the fetid parasite haven of southern Sudan, Zimmer graphically brings to life how parasites can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead.
This thorough, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe.
"As Zimmer shows, parasites are the real drivers of evolution: we live at best only arm's length from the unseen creatures that control our lives. Zimmer loves his subject, and his treatment is gentle rather than sensational: the understatement only heightens the horror. Read Parasite Rex and shudder — your dinner-party conversations will never be the same again." Henry Gee, Senior Editor at Nature and author of In Search of Deep Time
"Carl Zimmer is one of the finest, most engaging science journalists today. He has demonstrated once again his ability to present scientific concepts in arresting, understandable prose." Paul Hoffman, author of The Man Who Loved Only Numbers
"Bacteria and viruses have received all the press when it comes to plagues. In this vividly written book, Carl Zimmer explores the complex world of worms, protozoa and other terrifying creatures that pose an equally great public health threat around the world. These organisms are even more subtle and challenging enemies, and Zimmer provides an excellent introduction to them." Christopher Wills, author of Yellow Fever, Black Goddess
Bed bugs. Few words strike such fear in the minds of travelers. In cities around the world, lurking beneath the plush blankets of otherwise pristine-looking hotel beds are tiny bloodthirsty beasts just waiting for weary wanderers to surrender to a vulnerable slumber. Though bed bugs today have infested the globe, the common bed bug is not a new pest at all. Indeed, as Brooke Borel reveals in this unusual history, this most-reviled species may date back over 250,000 years, wreaking havoc on our collective psyche while even inspiring art, literature, and musicandmdash;in addition to vexatious red welts.
In Infested, Borel introduces readers to the biological and cultural histories of these amazingly adaptive insects, and the myriad ways in which humans have responded to them. She travels to meet with scientists who are rearing bed bug coloniesandmdash;even by feeding them with their own blood (ouch!)andmdash;and to the stages of musicals performed in honor of the pests. She explores the history of bed bugs and their apparent disappearance in the 1950s after the introduction of DDT, charting how current infestations have flourished in direct response to human chemical use as well as the ease of global travel. She also introduces us to the economics of bed bug infestations, from hotels to homes to office buildings, and the expansive industry that has arisen to combat them.
Hiding during the day in the nooks and seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, wallpaper, or any clutter around a bed, bed bugs are thriving and eager for their next victim. By providing fascinating details on bed bug science and behavior as well as a captivating look into the lives of those devoted to researching or eradicating them, Infested is sure to inspire at least a nibble of respect for these tenacious creaturesandmdash;while also ensuring that you will peek beneath the sheets with prickly apprehension.
andlt;B andgt;IN THIS REISSUED PAPERBACK EDITION WITH A NEW EPILOGUE, CARL ZIMMER REVEALS THE POWER, DANGER, AND BEAUTY OF PARASITES.andlt;/Bandgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and the darkest shadows of science. In andlt;I andgt;Parasite Rexandlt;/Iandgt;, Carl Zimmer takes readers on a fantastic voyage into the secret universe of these extraordinary life-formsand#8212;which are not only among the most highly evolved on Earth, but make up the majority of lifeand#8217;s diversity. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the parasite-riddled war zone of southern Sudan, Zimmer introduces an array of amazing creatures that invade their hosts, prey on them from within, and control their behavior. He also vividly describes parasites that can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This comprehensive, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us all about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universeand#8212;the laws of Parasite Rex.
About the Author
Carl Zimmer is the author of At the Water's Edge and a frequent contributor to Discover, National Geographic, Natural History, Nature, and Science. He is a winner of the Everett Clark Award for science journalism and the American Institute of Biological Sciences Media Award. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Prologue: A Vein Is a River First sightings of the inner world
Further Reading and Selected Bibliography
What Our Readers Are Saying
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