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A planet of viruses is a book review written by Carl Zimmer, focusing on the fascinating world of viruses.

A Planet of Viruses – by Carl Zimmer

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We’ve reviewed numerous books on the immune system before, and this one’s mostly not about that.

Instead, this one focuses on the viruses themselves, and the part they play in our world, for good and for ill. Popular awareness tends to focus on the ill, of course.

But, there’s a lot that viruses do for us too, including:

  • Weak/harmless viruses that keep our immune systems on their toes and ready
  • Bacteriophage viruses that kill and consume pathogens that, left unchecked, would do the same to us
  • Endogenous retroviruses that have become symbiotic with the human organism, without which our species would quickly go extinct

He also talks about biological warfare, and how we cannot bury our heads in the sand by avoiding research on those grounds, because someone will always do it anyway, so (as the motto of the immune system itself might say), best to be prepared.

The author is a science journalist, by the way, and has no PhD, but does have a flock of Fellowships and assorted scientific awards and honors, so he appears to be doing good work so far as the scientific community is concerned.

Bottom line: if you’d like to know more about viruses than “they’re very small and can cause harm”, then this book will open a whole new world.

Click here to check out A Planet of Viruses, and upgrade your knowledge!

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