In this re-issued paperback edition with a new epilogue, Carl Zimmer reveals the power, danger, and beauty of parasites in “a book capable of changing how we see the world” ( Los Angeles Times ). For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and the darkest shadows of science. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer takes readers on a fantastic voyage into the secret universe of these extraordinary life-forms—which are not only among the most highly evolved on Earth, but make up the majority of life’s diversity. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the parasite-riddled war zone of southern Sudan, Zimmer introduces an array of amazing creatures that invade their hosts, prey on them from within, and control their behavior. His vivid descriptions bring to life parasites that can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This comprehensive, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us all about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe—the laws of Parasite Rex.
The author traveled to Africa to see firsthand the effects of sleeping sickness and river blindness. He learned from physicians and researchers that the parasites that wreak so much havoc are much more than the simple degenerates we've taken them for. Their complex adaptations to their environments--us--are as lovely and awe-inspiring as any eye or wing. The examples of hormonal and other behavioral control of hosts, causing changes in feeding habits and other life essentials, are chilling when personalized. Zimmer knows his subject well, and his writing, while robust and affecting, never descends to the all-too-easy gross-out. You wouldn't expect to find respect for a tapeworm, but Parasite Rex will show you how beautiful Earth's truly dominant life forms are. --Rob Lightner
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