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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle introduction to virus biology
In this relatively short book, Professor Crawford gives us a neat and informative if somewhat simplified introduction to virus biology. Chapter one is an introduction to viruses and their context within the world of microbes. The author rightly criticises lazy journalists who seem unable to or simply cannot be bothered to differentiate between bacteri and viruses...
Published on 30 Dec. 2009 by Matthew Culley

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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Medical corruption!
I bought this book on the strength of the reviews on Amazon, but it failed to live up to what was written about it.

I was expecting a book that explained viruses in an interesting and friendly manner, but, instead, got very dry prose with political overtones, and no explanations of how viruses work, mutate, etc. - no actual science! The author is a member of...
Published on 18 Nov. 2010 by Richard


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle introduction to virus biology, 30 Dec. 2009
In this relatively short book, Professor Crawford gives us a neat and informative if somewhat simplified introduction to virus biology. Chapter one is an introduction to viruses and their context within the world of microbes. The author rightly criticises lazy journalists who seem unable to or simply cannot be bothered to differentiate between bacteri and viruses.

The rapid evolution of viruses was discussed. However, I felt that there was a deterministic feel to this discussion, with the impression that viruses are able to choose a partcular pathway to evolve. Rather, in a virus population, a small number will, though chance will have the ability to exploit a particular niche, for example by surviving in the GU tract. These will be favoured and will thus dominate the future viral "fauna" for that viral type. I think the book was written this way as a simplification but I feel it is an important point - viral evolution is critical to understanding and combatting viral infections.

I am glad that the author included the transmissable spongiform encephalopathies in the book. At the moment, these appear to be auto-catalytic proteins able to make copies of themselves. They may have parallels to viruses, and there is much of interest in their studies.

I enjoyed the chapter on viruses and cancer. It has been difficult to conclusively demonstrate a direct link between virus and cancer except in a few particular cancers such as Burkitt's Lymphoma. From a theoretical point of view, since viruses integrate their genome with the host's genome it is not unreasonable that viruses may have a role in inducing cancers.

Overall, this is a well-written book that is of especial use to those who are not familiar with this area of science. A helpful glossary is also included.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really informative and thought provoking book., 11 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
I really enjoyed this book, and though I regularly follow scientific developments, this book really set the story straight on some of the most socially important diseases of the moment such as AIDS and Ebola. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in diseases and how humans have lived with and adapted to them or even overcome them. My only criticism is of the conclusion drawn at the end of the book which lacked the depth and authoritive insight displayed in the rest of the book.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book for 'us' to read, not scientific boffins !, 31 Oct. 2000
By 
Review of 'The Invisible Enemy' by Dorothy Crawford, October 2000
This book should come with a 'Highly Recommended' label. For those who have ever felt the slightest pang of curiosity when our doctor tells us we are suffering from "only a virus" (when we feel that we are at death's door), at last we have a book that explains in plain language how one of man's greatest enemies - viruses - work ! The most deadly infectious disease of the present day, the world's biggest killer, is a virus - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). However, viruses and man go back millions of years to the evolution of our earliest ancestors. Since the dawn of civilisation, approximately 10,000 years ago, viral infections have outwitted us at every turn, and still manage to do so. Amazingly, just over 100 years ago, medical science had still failed to discern that viruses were responsible for some of our most common afflictions. Only within the last century have we managed to: - establish the disease associations of viruses and man - isolate 20 families of viruses that infect humans (some with over 100 family members !) - produce images of viruses, using the electron microscope - analyse the genetic makeup of some viruses, (and exploit them using genetic engineering) - produce effective treatments and vaccines for viruses (but these are sadly few) We have even succeeded in completely eradicating one virus infection within the population - the dreaded smallpox, which until 1980 was responsible for approximately 4 million deaths per year, worldwide. These are all major achievements, but new virus infections are emerging all the time - for example, HIV was unknown until the early 1980's. This means that the battle against these old adversaries is never likely to stop ! Despite this, the majority of people are unaware of the basic characteristics of viruses, which is perhaps alarming considering the intimate relationship that exists between viruses and man ? Professor Crawford has come to our rescue with a book that explains all aspects of viruses' interactions with man in a clear and accessible way. Have you ever wondered why we catch so many colds ? Ever wondered why your doctor is reluctant to give you antibiotics for flu ? Did you know that some cancers are caused by a virus ? Even more startling revelations are provided, for example the story of a group of eminent physicians who contracted hepatitis 'A' from a raspberry parfait ! Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction ! This book is written in a 'user friendly' way, with minimal jargon for easy reading. A helpful glossary is provided to explain those terms that we may be unfamiliar with. My favourite aspect is the enthusiastic and amusing way that Professor Crawford approaches her subject; with chapter titles such as (the perhaps cynical) 'Unlike love, herpes is forever' we know that this is a book for us to read, not scientific boffins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has to be read!, 6 Aug. 2009
By 
Fireball Dragon (UK) - See all my reviews
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Amazing! That is the one word to describe this book. A great entertainer. The author has cleaved an element of fiction into pure science to help the reader visualize and grasp an understanding of how viruses work.

What I found particularly convincing abut the book was how the author mentions 'pandemics' and how one was due to occur in 2010. We are now all aware that such an event has indeed taken place, in the form of 'swine flu'. The author saw this coming, and I am sure they were probably watching the news at some point and thought, 'I told you so!".

There is so much we can learn from this book, I can't recommend it enough!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!, 27 Aug. 2009
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F. Boyd (UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is a fantastic little book full of bite-size info.
Being a student about to go do a masters this is a great revision book.
Recommend to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Interesting, 8 Oct. 2009
I found the book very interesting, informative and aimed at the general audiance. A good read for all ages.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 2 Aug. 2006
A very informative, brilliant book full of facts!. Great for undergraduates in the science field as this book covers a wide range of information ranging from prions to HIV to Herpes. I found this book helpful!
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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Medical corruption!, 18 Nov. 2010
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I bought this book on the strength of the reviews on Amazon, but it failed to live up to what was written about it.

I was expecting a book that explained viruses in an interesting and friendly manner, but, instead, got very dry prose with political overtones, and no explanations of how viruses work, mutate, etc. - no actual science! The author is a member of the medical establishment, so, perhaps, this explains the politics and callousness I encountered later in the book.

On the "Gulf War Syndrome", the author - who has never met any of these sufferers or studied their condition - writes a few superficial paragraphs on this topic, and then concludes with an unscientific opinion that the cause is most likely "stress", thus backing up the UK government's position, which has shown NO concern for these ex-soldiers right from day one. The author, herself, says that these sufferers may not like this conclusion, but that is how it is.

In 2009, the US military concluded that "Gulf War Syndrome" is NOT a psychosomatic condition:

"'At first, service members were told that the illness was all in their heads. So now, it's very validating for those service members to see that there are real physical differences between themselves and the Gulf War Veterans that are not ill,' said Forsythe.

"'Today's Soldiers don't exhibit any of the same symptoms,' Forsythe said. 'We're talking about the same geographical region. So what happened to these service members in 1990-91 that's not happening now? That's really the central question.'

"Research completed and analyzed over the past year has narrowed the underlying causes of Gulf War Syndrome to three factors...: chemical nerve agents, pesticides, and the use of Pyridostigmine Bromide pills."

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Where are all the soldiers with "Iraq War Syndrome"? Invading and occupying Iraq has been far, far more stressful on soldiers than the Gulf War.

The book has gone in the bin, where it belongs.

Postscript: In 2007, the UK government did a quiet U-turn, allowing veterans to use the term "Gulf War Syndrome", though, officially, still NOT recognizing the condition as a true illness.

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2014 UPDATE: if you want to understand viruses: "Principles of Virology (Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control)" by Flint, Enquist, Krug, Racandiello, and Skalka
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