Zombieism isn't just the stuff of movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead. It's real, and it's happening in the word around us, from wasps and worms, to dogs and moose – and even humans. In Plight of the Living Dead, science journalist Matt Simon documents his journey through the bizarre evolutionary history of mind control. Along the way, he visits a lab where scientists infect ants with zombifying fungi, joins the search for kamikaze crickets in the hills of New Mexico, and travels to Israel to meet the wasp that stings cockroaches in the brain before leading them to their doom.
Matt Simon is a science writer at Wired magazine, where he specializes in zoology, particularly of the bizarre variety, and the author of The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar. He is one of just a handful of humans to witness the fabled mating ritual of the axolotl salamander. He lives in San Francisco.
"This book is fantastic! The sci-fi stories you've read barely hold a candle to the gruesome ways in which parasites manipulate their hosts in real life. This book will make your skin crawl with some of the best examples of manipulation we've encountered, fascinate you with what we know about how parasites achieve these amazing feats of control, and leave you wondering what this all means for the nature of free will. You'll be thinking about this book long after you're done reading it."
– Kelly Weinersmith, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything
"Matt Simon is, to borrow his term, a zombifier: Plight of the Living Dead will infect your brain, forcing you to spout a stream of bizarre facts – about fat-sucking worms, muscle-eating fungi, brain-stabbing wasps – until your friends buy the book for themselves, and the chain of infection continues."
– Mark Essig, author of Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig
"A gruesome, fascinating, and somehow hilarious exploration of the most devious, mind-altering tactics of the bug wars. I found myself cringing, laughing, learning, but most of all thankful I'm not an ant."
– Cody Cassidy, author of And Then You're Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara