Originally published as The Invisible Enemy: A Natural History of Viruses, this book is now republished in the Oxford Landmark Science series and updated to take into account the COVID-19 pandemic.
All around us are minute entities that can damage and kill: the millions of viruses that pervade the natural world. Our bodies harbour many that we have long tolerated, but a new one, that jumps into humans from another species, can be lethal – as we have seen most recently with the virus responsible for COVID-19. But what are viruses, how do they cause disease, and how can we fight them?
In Viruses: The Invisible Enemy, a brand new edition of her classic work The Invisible Enemy, virologist Dorothy Crawford explores these questions. She takes the reader on a journey through the past to show how, as the human race evolved from hunter gatherer to farmer to our present urban, industrialised society, viruses have taken advantage of each lifestyle change to promote their own survival.
We have acquired many new viruses along the way, some spreading globally and causing killer diseases. But now, in the 21st century, as humans increasingly encroach into and exploit the natural world, the rate of emergence of novel viruses is accelerating. Already we've had a flu pandemic, large epidemics from SARS, Ebola and Zika viruses, and most devastating of all, SARS-CoV-2, which swept around the world in 2020-21, causing the COVID-19 pandemic. The response of scientists has been rapid, producing vaccines in record time. But we can expect more such challenges in the future. Viruses: The Invisible Enemy discusses why and how SARS-CoV-2 and other killer viruses emerged, and how we can win the battle against such an enemy.
1. Bugs, Germs, and Microbes
2. New viruses or old adversaries in new guises?
3. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases
4. Unlike love, Herpes is forever
5. Viruses and Cancer
6. Searching for a cure
Conclusion - The future - friend or foe
Dorothy Crawford FRSE OBE is a professor of medical microbiology and assistant principal for public understanding of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where she was also Vice Principal for Public Understanding of Science (2008-12). Her specialism in research has been the Epstein-Barr virus. She has written eight popular books, including Viruses: A Very Short Introduction, (2nd edition, 2018), and Deadly Companions, (2018, also in the Oxford Landmark Science series), as well as a large number of articles for newspapers and blogs, including a period as a science columnist for The Scotsman. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was awarded an OBE for services to medicine and to higher education.
Reviews of the first edition:
"The book is lovingly researched and packed with fascinating anecdotes and I found it extremely difficult to put down [...] No home is complete without this book, if only as a reminder to wash your hands."
– Press and Journal
"The Invisible Enemy is accessbile to the genereal reader, accurate and thought-provoking"
– Ian Simmons, The Fortean Times
"I recommend The Invisible Enemy to anyone with questions about the nature of viruses and their role in human diseases [...] The Invisible Enemy is a clear and powerful beacon that penetrates the increasingly dense fog of media reports, folklore and myths"
– New Scientist
"Professor Crawford writes in a clear and accessible manner, which successfully conveys her fascination with the subject, and poses lots of interesting questions. Recommended reading for microbiologists; highly recommended for journalists, politicians and the public seeking understanding of big topical issues such as AIDS/HIV and BSE/CJD."
– Microbiology Today
" [...] this fascinating book provides a rapid and accessible introduction to modern virology"