Careful, logical, and intriguing instruction on an important subject. . . . This is all current and immediately relevant, and we’re in the hands of expert teachers.” —
“For medically and biologically inquisitive readers of almost any age.” —
“A top priority choice for public libraries. . . . If subsequent series entries succeed as well as this one, the museum will deserve high praise.” —
Linked to an American Museum of Natural History traveling exhibit and to a PBS special, this gathering of essays and explanations looks at what we now know about bacteria, viruses, parasites and their remedies, and at how science and medicine came to the knowledge and methods they now use. Editor and curator DeSalle (The Science Behind Jurassic Park) corrals work from 25 contributors (among them former health and human services secretary Louis Sullivan) into six discrete segments, dealing respectively with "evolution, ecology and culture"; vectors and carriers; mechanisms of infection and resistance; "outbreaks," "epidemics" and public health policy "action." Each segment includes a summary, at least one case study focusing on a single disease or outbreak and at least one laudatory profile of an individual. Section two's case study, for example, shows how Dr. John Snow used a map of London to prove that contaminated water transmitted cholera. Section five ends with a box describing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the AIDS researcher who runs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Readers can learn elsewhere in the volume about vaccines and antibodies; about prions, the malformed, DNA-less proteins that probably cause BSE (mad cow disease); and about tuberculosis in New York. Large-type questions for further study, along with photographs, charts and numerous sidebars, accentuate the book's presentation as a teaching tool and as a stimulus to further research for medically and biologically inquisitive readers of almost any age. 60 photographs and 22 illustrations. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this first volume in a new science series, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, DeSalle has collected a wealth of information about pathogens, methods of infection, the cultural implications of disease, and prevention and presented it in three ways: in brief essays written by scientific experts, profiles of renowned scientists, and case studies. Throughout, major emphasis is placed on the correlation between ecological changes and the spread of disease as well as on pathogens' ability to adapt rapidly to prevention and treatment methods. Supplementary illustrations, a lengthy glossary, and an annotated bibliography of books, videos, and web sites add to the value of this useful resource. Overall, this is a solid, reasonably priced introduction to a wide variety of issues, best suited to the general public. While faculty and graduate students may find the book lacking in depth, it is highly recommended for all undergraduate, high school, and public libraries.--Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Published in conjunction with the eponymously titled exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History (curated by DeSalle), this volume presents 40 short essays and case studies written for the general reader on the role of infectious disease in our world. The material is organized into six sections, each with an introductory essay by DeSalle, that cover evolution, ecology, and culture; exposure; infection; outbreaks; epidemics and pandemics; and preventative action. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The essays in this companion to the American Museum of Natural History's traveling exhibit and a PBS special make frighteningly clear the continuing threat posed by infectious diseasesand they lay out what science is doing to counteract that threat. Six progressive, understandable sections, edited by DeSalle, a curator at the museum (The Science of Jurassic Park, 1997), paint the picture from the actions of the smallest causative organisms (bacteria and viruses) to the global threat from overwhelming infections (HIV/AIDS, now running rampant in parts of Africa, for instance). Each section's scientific essays are well illustrated with cases studies of various diseases and profiles of major researchers in each field. Section one, for instance, begins with an introductory natural history of infectious disease: "the complex relationship between ecology, evolution, and culture." The following essays look at how infectious diseases accompany the evolution of species, adapting to new circumstances, and spinning off new diseases. "The Cultural Dimension of Malaria," for instance, explains what population groups contract the disease, and whyand how this knowledge can be used to research treatments. The section is rounded out with a profile of René Dubos, who, as the first "medical ecologist, by the time of his death in 1982, "had not only revolutionized microbiology and ushered in the age of antibiotics, but had profoundly influenced the manner in which science looks at the interrelatedness of all living things." The following five sections cover in-depth how humans become infected with disease (particular attention is paid to tick-borne illnesses here, which are on theincrease in the northeastern US); how microbes enter the body, how the body responds, and how medications are developed to supplement natural immunity; how infections break out in a specific population (AIDS, the hantavirus, and Legionnaire's disease included here); how infection spreads through a region or goes global; and how we can be vigilant and stop such spread of illness. This is all current and immediately relevant, and we're in the hands of expert teachers. Careful, logical, and intriguing instruction on an important subject. (60 photos, 22 illustrations)