Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From revulsion to respect, 8 Aug 2004
This review is from: Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures (Paperback)
If you're interested in life in general and natural wonders in particular, you should find this book fascinating, with your senses of revulsion and respect stimulated in more or less equal measure. The author has travelled the world, collecting data for this book, meeting interesting parasitologists and discussing some of the weird and fantastically well-adapted parasites they study. Carl Zimmer seems to be on a mission to give us a fresh, new way of looking at parasites - they've had a bad press and he's out to redress the balance. Parasite Rex should open your eyes to the part parasites play in maintaining a balance in the world's ecosystems; how vital they are to the well-being of life on our planet; how some can be used as a kind of 'canary in a mine' to measure the health of an environment and so on. In addition to that, the parasites covered in this book are just incredibly interesting. There were several occasions when I wondered if I should really believe what the author was telling me - the sort of account you might expect to find in some science fiction tale - so I checked other sources and sure enough, some parasites are so outlandishly bizarre that their story is hard to believe.
Zimmer explains how parasites came to be reviled; he describes a selection of species, their life cycles and the diseases they cause - sometimes using actual cases; he explains how they get into and manipulate their hosts (this is where you'll read some of the most astounding accounts that could out-weird any science fiction story); how their hosts fight back; how parasites have driven evolution by forcing their hosts into an 'arms race'; and how we should, in some ways, try to be more like them (the more benign ones at least). Some parasites are deadly of course but many cause no more harm than they have to, because wiping out their hosts would not help their survival. Zimmer compares parasites that use their hosts in this considerate way to humans using this planet in a considerate, non-destructive way. He says there's no shame in being a parasite. If we treated our host (the planet) with the care and consideration that some parasites treat their hosts, our planet's ecosystems would not be in the mess they are today. You have to hand it to the author, that's a new and intriguing way of looking at parasites.
I found his ideas very persuasive and I recommend this book. If you like Parasite Rex, you'll also enjoy Mark Ridley's "The Red Queen" and Arno Karlen's "The Biography of a Germ", both of which I highly recommend.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.7 out of 5 stars (15 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
10.00 7.00
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Leicestershire, United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 81,240