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Academic & Professional Books  Organismal to Molecular Biology  Microbiology

A Planet of Viruses

Popular Science
By: Carl Zimmer(Author), Judy Diamond(Foreword By), Charles Wood(Foreword By)
122 pages, 12 plates with colour illustrations
A Planet of Viruses
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  • A Planet of Viruses ISBN: 9780226294209 Edition: 2 Paperback Oct 2015 Usually dispatched within 4 days
Price: £9.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles

About this book

The past year has been one of viral panic – panic about viruses, that is. Through headlines, public health warnings, and at least one homemade hazmat suit, we were reminded of the powerful force of viruses. They are the smallest living things known to science, yet they can hold the entire planet in their sway.

A Planet of Viruses is Carl Zimmer's eye-opening look at the hidden world of viruses. Zimmer, the popular science writer and author of National Geographic's award-winning blog The Loom, has updated this edition to include the stories of new outbreaks, such as Ebola, MERS, and chikungunya virus; new scientific discoveries, such as a hundred-million-year-old virus that infected the common ancestor of armadillos, elephants, and humans; and new findings that show why climate change may lead to even deadlier outbreaks. Zimmer's lucid explanations and fascinating stories demonstrate how deeply humans and viruses are intertwined. Viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, are responsible for many of our most devastating diseases, and will continue to control our fate for centuries. Thoroughly readable, and as reassuring as it is frightening, A Planet of Viruses is a fascinating tour of a formidable hidden world.


Foreword by Judy Diamond and Charles Wood
“A Contagious Living Fluid”
Tobacco Mosaic Virus and the Discovery of the Virosphere

The Uncommon Cold
How Rhinoviruses Gently Conquered the World
Looking Down from the Stars
Influenza’s Never-Ending Reinvention
Rabbits with Horns
Human Papillomavirus and Infectious Cancer

The Enemy of Our Enemy
Bacteriophages as Viral Medicine
The Infected Ocean
How Marine Phages Rule the Sea
Our Inner Parasites
Endogenous Retroviruses and Our Virus-Riddled Genomes

The Young Scourge
Human Immunodeficiency Virus and the Animal Origins of Diseases
Becoming an American
The Globalization of West Nile Virus
Predicting the Next Plague
Ebola Virus and the Many Others Like It
The Long Goodbye
The Delayed Oblivion of Smallpox

The Alien in the Water Cooler
Giant Viruses and the Definition of Life
Selected References

Customer Reviews


Carl Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times, writes for National Geographic and other magazines, and is the author of thirteen books, including Parasite Rex, Soul Made Flesh, and Microcosm. He is also a lecturer at Yale University, where he teaches writing about science and the environment.

Popular Science
By: Carl Zimmer(Author), Judy Diamond(Foreword By), Charles Wood(Foreword By)
122 pages, 12 plates with colour illustrations
Media reviews

Praise for the first edition:

"Just about everything you've always wanted to know – and a lot you'll probably wish you didn't know – about the viruses that have caused humanity so much grief throughout history."

"In A Planet of Viruses, science writer Carl Zimmer accomplishes in a mere 100 pages what other authors struggle to do in 500: He reshapes our understanding of the hidden realities at the core of everyday existence [...] Whether he's exploring how viruses come to America or picking apart the surprisingly complicated common cold, Zimmer's train of thought is concise and illuminating."
Washington Post

 "Absolutely top-drawer popular science writing [...] Zimmer's information-packed, superbly readable look at virological knowledge awakens readers to the fact that not only are viruses everywhere but we couldn't live without them."
Booklist, starred review

"A smart, beautiful, and somewhat demented book that's likely to give you a case of the willies. In the best way possible."
Boing Boing

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