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What's Eating You?: People and Parasites

Biography / MemoirPopular Science

By: Eugene H Kaplan

320 pages, 30 b&w plates

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Mar 2010 | #184868 | ISBN-13: 9780691141404
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.95 $23/€21 approx

About this book

In "What's Eating You?" Eugene Kaplan recounts the true and harrowing tales of his adventures with parasites, and in the process introduces readers to the intimately interwoven lives of host and parasite. Kaplan has spent his life traveling the globe exploring oceans and jungles, and incidentally acquiring parasites in his gut. He leads the reader on an unforgettable journey into the bizarre yet oddly beautiful world of parasites.

In a narrative that is by turns frightening, disgusting, and laugh-out-loud funny, Kaplan describes how drinking contaminated water can cause a three-foot-long worm to burst from your arm; how he 'gave birth' to a parasite the size and thickness of a pencil while working in Israel; why you should never wave a dead snake in front of your privates; and why fleas are attracted to his wife. Kaplan tells stories about leeches feasting on soldiers in Vietnam; sea cucumbers with teeth in their anuses that seem to encourage the entry of symbiotic fish; the habits of parasites that cause dysentery, river blindness, and other horrifying diseases - and much, much more. Along the way, he explains the underlying science, including parasite evolution and host-parasite physiology.

Dip into Kaplan for a rich dose of disgust. -- Anne Hardy, Times Literary Supplement Engrossingly gross: A paean to parasites ... Kaplan is a master raconteur. What's more, he has an almost comical knack of contracting every parasitic infection going, which serves to bring his stories to life all the more vividly. This is gonzo parasitology writing at its finest. -- Clint Witchalls, New Scientist [What's Eating You?] takes the prize for most eww-inducing book title of the week. Ever want to know about hirudin, the anticoagulant in leech saliva? This is the book for you. -- San Francisco Chronicle [This] book has its squirmy pleasures... [Kaplan's] approach is often lurid, sometimes humorous vignettes on different parasites, each story culminating in a page of scientific drawings that illustrate the intersecting paths of parasites and hosts. -- Nina Ayoub, Chronicle Review [Kaplan] simply conveys a vast amount of information painlessly... He has a lively sense of story. -- Michael Sims, Washington Post You can't go wrong with a book about the disgusting, utterly gross organisms that set up shop in and on the human body. Think tapeworms, flukes and leeches. Seriously high yuck factor. Still, these alien invaders are so bizarre they're fascinating. In his riveting, if often revolting, book Eugene H. Kaplan regales with tales from his life as a parasite taxonomist... Lurid and charming in equal measure. -- Leigh Dayton, The Australian In two decades I have not had the pleasure of appraising such a repulsive volume as What's Eating You? I heartily commend it... The thirty chapters of Professor Eugene H. Kaplan's study all read like punchy little fables about different aspects of parasitology. -- David Profumo, Literary Review Over many years of teaching parasitology, Eugene Kaplan found a way to keep students awake: lurid stories. Now the retired biology professor and researcher from Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, has a new book, What's Eating You?, that tucks in the science about both rare and common parasites along with the tales. -- Nancy White, Toronto Star Kaplan's gory stories, fun though they are, are simply gateways into a fascinating aspect of biology: symbiosis... Kaplan dazzles with a wealth of knowledge about worms, live, and bed bugs. His colourful descriptions of their biology and life cycle are bolstered by evolutionary explanations... Kaplan is a good writer, but it is his brilliantly uninhibited sense of humour that really makes the prose zing with life. -- Priya Shetty, The Lancet Not for the queasy or faint of heart. But if you're the least bit curious about the creatures that can inhabit humans, I promise you'll be fascinated. -- Scott Shalaway, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Take a rousing romp through the zoo of beasties that make a living invading our bodies. Kaplan, a professor of parasitology and himself a victim of amebic dysentery and 8-inch roundworms, gives a raucous crash course that blends surprising biology with macabre stories. -- Discover Magazine [A] real cracker of a page-turner... [O]ne of the books of the season that will appeal to professionals or anyone who's ever doubted whether it's a good idea to wash your hands or cook food properly. -- Paul O'Doherty, Life Science Review The greatest strength of this book lies in its personal touch... Through all manner of disgusting and even frightening details, Kaplan makes attractive and easy to follow what is usually soporific in other books. -- deric Thomas,"PLOS Biology What we don't know hurts us most, and thus Dr. Eugene Kaplan's well-illustrated mini-encyclopedia of parasites, their modes of entry into our bodies, and the damage they do is a must-read for all adventurous and scientifically curious travelers... What's Eating You is totally readable and rich in historical asides and social notes. -- Foreword Magazine People who enjoy travel adventures in near and far exotic places may want to read this clearly written, beautifully illustrated book about parasites... Kaplan describes the bizarre, frightening, and even disgusting ways of parasites in entertaining language. For each story, he explains the biology of the interwoven lives of host and parasite along with the social consequences resulting from parasitic diseases. -- Choice Although this book serves up what can basically be described as 'Parasitology 101' for the masses, it is quite a feast with an incredible variety on the menu! It's 'full' (30 chapters) of parasites, from microscopic protistans to 12-m-long tapeworms. You're going to want to wash your hands before you eat (although you should already) and really do your homework before schlepping off overseas to try the local fare. -- Charles K. Blend, Journal of Parasitology


Preface: Personal Parasites ix Acknowledgments xi Apologia xiii On the Sacredness of Life xv Introduction. The Saline Solution--An Inner Sea 1 Chapter 1: Land of Smiles 6 Chapter 2: An Encounter with Jordan Rose 15 Chapter 3: I Had a Farm in Africa 25 Chapter 4: Death of a Mouse 33 Chapter 5: Intimate Relationships 40 Chapter 6: A Peek into the Anus of--My Child 48 Chapter 7: The Well-Hung Dog 58 Chapter 8: Fiery Serpent 69 Chapter 9: It Hardly Ever Happens 75 Chapter 10: The Anti-Semitic Tapeworm 82 Chapter 11: Mother Always Wanted Me to Be a Real Doctor 91 Chapter 12: Missus Murphy's Baby 98 Chapter 13: The Day I Flunked the Macho Test 109 Chapter 14: The Biblical Plagues 117 Chapter 15: Alley Cats and Seagulls 127 Chapter 16: A Better Mousetrap 137 Chapter 17: Scandals and Ghosts 144 Chapter 18: Spiny-Headed Monsters 155 Chapter 19: Bloodsucking Beasts 165 Chapter 20: Ode to a Cockroach 174 Chapter 21: Bats, Bugs, and Bloody Bites 184 Chapter 22: Little Fleas Have Littler Fleas 195 Chapter 23: How to Get Rid of Crabs 203 Chapter 24: Wild Virgins 211 Inexplicable Behavior: Some Relationships Are More Intimate Than Others 221 Chapter 25: Topsy-Turvy Worlds 224 Chapter 26: A Day in the Caribbean 235 Chapter 27: Tit, Tit, Tittie--Cuckoo 245 Chapter 28: The Game of Life: Name That Category 251 Chapter 29: Paean of Praise 257 Chapter 30: Tips for Travelers 268 Epilogue 277 Glossary 281 Selected References 293 Illustration Sources 295 Index 297

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Eugene H. Kaplan is the Donald E. Axinn Endowed Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Conservation (emeritus) at Hofstra University. His many books include "Sensuous Seas: Tales of a Marine Biologist" (Princeton) and "A Field Guide to Southeastern and Caribbean Seashores" (Peterson Field Guides).

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