A Planet of Viruses: "Absolutely top drawer" says Booklist

The reviews are just starting to come out for  A Planet of Viruses–here’s a starred one slated to appear soon in Booklist:

The effects of viruses have been known since time immemorial, thanks to the common cold, the flu, and smallpox. But when viruses were physically discovered in the late nineteenth century, it was by elimination; that is, something was discovered that caused disease but wasn’t animal, plant, fungus, or bacterium. The electron microscope finally made that something visible, and its basic mechanisms were ascertained by 1950. What has been discovered about viruses since, however, dwarfs all that previous virological knowledge. For viruses are everywhere, and a recurring motif of Zimmer’s information- packed, superbly readable, brief essays is the assay of a substance—seawater, human sputum, subterranean warm water segregated for hundreds of thousands of years from the biology of the rest of the world—thought to be relatively or positively pure finds it crawling with viruses. Obviously, not all viruses kill or even sicken. In fact, it’s not so much a matter of perforce having to live with viruses as not being able to live without them, and not just because they’re so tiny, ubiquitous, and numerous but also because they help produce the oxygen we breathe and because some of them disable bacteria toxic to us—among other vital things. Absolutely top-drawer popular science writing.

I’ll have much more to say about the book in the weeks to come!

5 thoughts on “A Planet of Viruses: "Absolutely top drawer" says Booklist

  1. I checked Kindle and got excited when I saw Planet of Viruses was available in e-format. Then when I actually looked at the book it was Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. Not sure how that book jumped to the front of the list. But I do see that Microcosm is available so I’ll put that on my list–don’t suppose you can sign an electronic edition for me? 🙂

    Are there any plans to put Viruses in e-book format?

    For the most part, I only buy hard copy books if they’re textbook format (Tangled Bank) or a heavy reference book (e.g. population modelling/stats). Any other non-fiction books I look for in e-book. If it isn’t in that format, I won’t buy it.

    The Kindle is much more portable than a book. If I have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, I start reading. It it surprising how many potential reading gaps are available in a day, and I finished my first book in 3 weeks just using those short gaps. Plus, if I’m traveling long distance I don’t need to take a bulky book on the plane…just take my Kindle which has about 30 books on it so I can even switch books.

    I was skeptical about e-book format and if I’d like it or not, but now I’m stuck on it–when I first started reading an e-book my reflex had me trying to turn the page like it was paper. Now if I read an actual book, my reflex has me trying to push a button to turn the page. I hope publishers are listening because I think e-format books will soon outsell hard copy.

  2. I requested my library purchase this book when I first heard about it. They’ve ordered three copies, and I’ve got the second one reserved (somebody beat me by two hours)!

  3. I want to second the Kindle request. I’ve run out of room and I now only buy books for my Kindle and various Kindle apps. I’d gladly pay the $13.25 hardcover price for the Kindle edition. I’ve been wanting to know what’s going on with the viruses ever since Ventor trawled the ocean for them and found them everywhere.

    [CZ: There will be a Kindle edition; I assume it will be available in May, when the print edition publishes]

  4. Actually, you don’t need a live virus to make vaccines. It depends on the virus and the technique being used. Specifical­ly, you don’t even need to use the same virus to make the vaccine. The original smallpox vaccine was made from cow pox – a close cousin that is MUCH less virulent, but confers the same protection against smallpox http://bit.ly/h7xyfk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *