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Publisher's Summary

For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and the darkest shadows of science. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer takes listeners on a fantastic voyage into the secret universe of these extraordinary life forms that 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. He also vividly describes 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 audiobook 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.

©2000 Carl Zimmer (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

I hate parasites but this book is cool

Excellent narrative animates parasites' terrifying world for both the layperson and the scientifically inclined. I found it easy to imagine the creatures and their lives thanks to clever analogies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating and Horrible

The Book is a Biological Science gem. Parasitology (minus bacteria and viruses) as the author writes about shows itself to be an understudied but essential part of living organisms and ecosystems. The book was written in 2000. I’m curious to see if any of the authors contentions about parasitology, it’s centrality and potential for scientific breakthroughs have come to pass. Great topic written is very engaging style.
My only complaint: Literally, the last few minutes of the book when the author started talking about “Gaia”. Ok I’m hoping he was using Gaia as metaphor, not teleologically. Then right after that he makes this statement. “Parasites are expert at only causing the harm that is necessary. Evolution has taught them that pointless harm will only harm themselves” What? He is giving Evolution “agency” to “teach” parasites - ok, not to much guys or you’ll hurt your host? That is disturbing sloppy to hear from a Scientist. Richard Dawkins would not be happy. Beyond the overreach on Evolution his love of his parasite subjects seems to have temporarily confused him. Parasites are fascinating, perhaps essential, but they are the bad guys. Very few people would find the definition of “Pointless Harm” from a parasite as acceptable. Studying them is essential to stop the damage they do.

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A great read!

Every chapter was interesting and kept me wanting more. That parasites play a role in nature, rather than just being pests, is a concept well described in Parasite Rex. Well done!