Biography of a Germ by Arno Karlen

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Synopsis

This is high drama played out on a very small stage: a microbe's life seen from its own point of view. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb for short) is a tiny, pale spiral, invisible to the naked eye, yet no one could invent a life so ingenious, or one so tied to so many creatures' fates. We know Bb as the germ that causes Lyme disease, but that is just one recent chapter in its age-old struggle to survive. In this brilliant and original book, Arno Karlen takes readers on a fantastic journey through Bb's world--its ancestry and evolution, its day-to-day life, its perilous travels through ticks, mice, and deer, and, finally, its collision with humanity. Its life evokes the vast ecological web in which we and Bb are threads.

Bb is of special interest because it is one of a score of microbes that recently shifted to humans from other species, causing such epidemics as Lyme disease and AIDS. Like its microbial brethren, Bb entered our bodies because we invited it to, by changing our environment and behavior. Its history shows how germs, their hosts, and their shared environment all shape one another.

But Bb is fascinating in its own right, a distinctive member of bacteria's invisible kingdom. And its story is an homage to the researchers who discovered it, mapped its genes, and continue to explore it.

Imaginative, entertaining, and compelling, Biography of a Germ makes science pure pleasure.
 

About Arno Karlen

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Arno Karlen, Ph.D., a pschoanalyst, has written widely on history and biomedical science. He is the author of Napoleon's Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory and Man and Microbes: Diseases and Plauges in History and Modern Times. He lives in New York City.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published May 30, 2000 by Pantheon. 192 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Biography of a Germ

Publishers Weekly

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The germ is Borrelia burgdorferi, Bb for short, and causes Lyme disease in the people it infects: before it hits a human, Bb has to reside in three other animals--a mouse, a tick and a deer, in that o

Jan 03 2000 | Read Full Review of Biography of a Germ

The Guardian

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The best lesson we learn is about connectivity, the intricacy of the ecosystem: spray DDT to kill mosquitoes, and it ends up concentrated in the bodies of the lizards that eat them, which ends up killing the cats that eat the lizards, which also, until they die, eat the mice whose infected urine ...

Oct 06 2001 | Read Full Review of Biography of a Germ

Publishers Weekly

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The germ is Borrelia burgdorferi, Bb for short, and causes Lyme disease in the people it infects: before it hits a human, Bb has to reside in three other animals--a mouse, a tick and a deer, in that order.

| Read Full Review of Biography of a Germ

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