Cloth $22.00 ISBN: 9780226983356 Published September 2011
Paper $12.00 ISBN: 9780226983363 Published April 2012
E-book $12.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226983332 Published April 2011

A Planet of Viruses

Carl Zimmer

A Planet of Viruses
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Images of viruses from the book (PDF 1.8 Mb).

Carl Zimmer

122 pages | 12 color plates | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2011
Cloth $22.00 ISBN: 9780226983356 Published September 2011
Paper $12.00 ISBN: 9780226983363 Published April 2012
E-book $12.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226983332 Published April 2011

Viruses are the smallest living things known to science, yet they hold the entire planet in their sway. We are most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or the flu, but viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long, in fact, that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in caves miles underground.

This fascinating book explores the hidden world of viruses—a world that we all inhabit. Here Carl Zimmer, popular science writer and author of Discover magazine’s award-winning blog The Loom, presents the latest research on how viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate for years to come. In this eye-opening tour of the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life as we know it, we learn that some treatments for the common cold do more harm than good; that the world’s oceans are home to an astonishing number of viruses; and that the evolution of HIV is now in overdrive, spawning more mutated strains than we care to imagine.

The New York Times Book Review calls Carl Zimmer “as fine a science essayist as we have.” A Planet of Viruses is sure to please his many fans and further enhance his reputation as one of America’s most respected and admired science journalists.

Forbes

"Part of a series sponsored by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) to help support educational outreach to students, [A Planet of Viruses] packs into 109 pages 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."—Forbes

 
Times Higher Education
"For those with long memories, not much seems to have happened in fundamental physics and cosmology since Carl Sagan's Cosmos, 30 years ago. . . . The real action is in biology, where amazing new facts just keep coming. The techniques of genome analysis make it remarkably easy at the moment to make unexpected observations. [A Planet of Viruses] is packed with them, carefully assembled by another talented populariser, the science writer and Yale University lecturer Carl Zimmer."—Times Higher Education
Onion A.V. Club
"Science writer Carl Zimmer has a penchant for writing about things most humans like to avoid; his previous works include Microcosm: E. Coli And The New Science Of Life, and Parasite Rex. Each chapter of his latest work is dedicated to a different type of virus, providing a brief synopsis on what makes a certain species unique, and using the example to launch into fascinating information about what it teaches about the nature of viruses and life in general."
Booklist (starred review)

“Absolutely top-drawer popular science writing.”

Maggie Koerth-Baker | Boing Boing

“Carl Zimmer is one of my absolute favorite science writers, and he's about to come out with a new book called A Planet of Viruses. I'm a bit of a virology fangirl, and am, thus, ridiculously excited about this news.”

Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“Carl Zimmer is one of the best science writers we have today. A Planet of Viruses is an important primer on the viruses living within and around all of us—sometimes funny, other times shocking, and always accessible. Whether discussing the common cold and flu, little-known viruses that attack bacteria or protect oceans, or the world’s viral future as seen through our encounters with HIV or SARS, Zimmer’s writing is lively, knowledgeable, and graced with poetic touches.”

Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

“I’m a serious fan of Carl Zimmer, and A Planet of Viruses provided a new treat. It’s thoughtful, precise, and engrossing, page by page. Zimmer has an uncanny ability to tell cool tales about nature that leave you with new thoughts and understanding, always keeping precisely to the science.”

Jonathan Weiner, author of Long for This World

“This little book will interest anyone on this planet who has ever played host to a virus. It is beautifully clear, eminently sensible, and fascinating from beginning to end—like everything Carl Zimmer writes. I don’t know how Zimmer does it! Neither does anyone else who follows and enjoys his work.”

Nathan Wolfe, founder and CEO of Global Viral Forecasting

“An accessible and gripping narrative on a serious topic that manages to explain, in plain English, how viruses are changing the world. Carl Zimmer has found great stories and woven them into an honest, optimistic book. It is a wonderfully vivid and compelling read.”

ScienceNews

"As with any great journey, this virtual tour opens your eyes and expands your horizons. You’ll learn amazing facts. But this is no textbook. Zimmer does not do boring or stuffy; reading his work is like hanging out with the smartest, most interesting guy you have ever met as he regales you with tales of his travels and fascinating finds along the way."—ScienceNews

Julia Sweeney

“I hope Carl Zimmer lives a long, long time so we can get more and more books from him. . . . [A Planet of Viruses is] a short read . . . but intense and well explained.”

Lancet Infectious Diseases
“A contagious fear pervades the public perception of viruses, and rightly so, because they cause many serious diseases; but they are not all bad. In A Planetof Viruses Carl Zimmer seeks to convey this message, elegantly communicating the history of viruses, their symbiotic relation with life, and their influence on mankind’s development.”
Washington Post
“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.”
Choice
“Although most everyone is familiar with the word "viruses," few people are aware of the major role they play as powerful agents of change on Earth. Zimmer presents an intriguing journey into the world of viruses, providing a fascinating historical perspective. . . . This is an insightful book that serves as an excellent resource for understanding viruses and their relationship to humans. . . . Highly recommended.”
Microbe Magazine
“This book is pure reading pleasure. It is amazing how seamlessly Carl Zimmer tells the stories of viruses in short chapters, describing the history, microbiology, and impacts of viruses in interesting, informative, readable chapters.”
Booklist

"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

Contents
Introduction. "A Contagious Living Fluid": Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Old Companions
The Uncommon Cold
Rhinovirus
Looking Down from the Stars
Influenza Virus
Rabbits with Horns
Papillomavirus

Everywhere, In All Things
The Enemy of Our Enemy
Bacteriophages
Oceans of Viruses
Marine Phages
The Infected Genome
Endogenous Retroviruses

The Viral Future
The Young Scourge
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Becoming An American
West Nile Virus
Predicting the Next Plague
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
The Long Goodbye
Smallpox

Epilogue. The Alien in the Watercooler: Mimivirus

Selected references
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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