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Invisible Enemies, Revised Edition: Stories of Infectious Disease Hardcover – March 24, 2005

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Seven infectious diseases (smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS) are covered in this excellent book. For each one, the author highlights the causes of the affliction, the history of its treatment or lack thereof, popular notions and fears that have often led to additional suffering beyond the trauma caused by the illness, and the story of how breakthroughs came about (or what still needs to be done). Filled with fascinating facts, the text is written in a crisp and lucid style that makes the most complex matters understandable. Although this could easily be a dry subject, the author does such a wonderful job of presenting it that some chapters are as exciting as any work of fiction. The black-and-white photos and reproductions illuminate details about historical perceptions of the diseases. A riveting account.
Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Scientific American

Seven major killers are discussed here in up-to-date, straightforward essays, about 30 pages for each, with four or five images of worthies, posters, cartoons and the like. The emphasis is historical and clinical: what happened, what still happens and what is done for it. Not much of the laboratory is here, little talk of viral strains or physiology; the scene is implicitly hospital, office or sickbed, a familiar level well suited to readers 12 years old and up. "Leprosy," long misnamed and misunderstood, is a fascinating chapter. Hansen's disease--it was he who found the germ in the 1870s--is in fact the least contagious of all the scourges discussed in the book. It was false fear that has doomed leprosy sufferers: a Greek term for a blotchy skin disease was used to translate the Old Testament Hebrew term for "unholy." The patients had varied facial disfigurements, sometimes specific numbness in hands, feet, even eyelids, all very rarely fatal. On so slight a curse they were exiled and rejected for 2,000 years. The World Health Organization thinks it may effectively end the public health problem--that is, reduce the prevalence of leprosy to one person in 10,000 worldwide in a few years. The U.S. caseload is below that now, at about 7,000 cases. Smallpox is extinct, barring biological warfare. Plague is carried in the U.S. mainly by prairie dogs; antibiotics and rat catchers may soon end it in cities. Cholera was all but ended by understanding that its fatalities were brought on by dehydration; copious drinks of water cure patients in a day or two (with a little salt and sugar to help it down). But malaria rages on; maybe a Chinese botanical drug of high promise will eventually succeed. And tuberculosis might be met with enough money, but the battle against HIV/AIDS is still at crisis. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 2 Rev Upd edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374336075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374336073
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Some people say that a book has "more than you'll ever want to know" about such and such a thing. Realistically, though, a single volume cannot contain all information on a subject. This book, Invisible Enemies, is not more than you'll ever want to know... it's a start to a whole new search for knowledge.
After I read this, I thought I should become an epidemiologist.
Though it was classified under the children's section at my local library, I was intrigued by both the cover, the description, and the title. I checked it out and read it; it contains summaries, drawings, history, stories, and explanations of many highly infectious diseases that have plagued man throughout history--six or seven, I believe. Included are: tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, bubonic plague, AIDS, smallpox, and malaria. Before I read this, the basis of my knowledge of smallpox was that it is mostly gone, with the exception of a few lab samples around the world. Now I know how the vaccination was developed, as well as its spread and symptoms.
If diseases are something even slightly interesting to you, this is the book I would begin with.
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By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Never did I think that I would be reading, much less enjoying, a book about infectious disease! It is a tribute to the way the book is written, taking perspectives from several disciplines, that a non-scientist such as myself would be fascinated by this book. The treatment of tuberculosis is particularly engaging. It is apparent that the author has a keen understanding of this disease. I highly recommend this book. If nothing else, you can entertain your friends with stories of how the Chinese fought smallpox!
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Format: Hardcover
The author writes well and with grace. The topic of infectious disease is easily misinterpreted by terms such as "the deadly_________" that pervades the cheap popular press, but none of that here. She also writes with accuracy from having read the relevant literature. I do not think this a children's book but rather a chatty and intelligent exploration of the plagues of our times. I would place on the level of Hans Zinsser, Macfarlane Burnet but without the inevitable academic claptrap. Whether she will continue her frank and unembroidered style as she continues in academic medicine is anybodies guess, but if anyone can write a history of AIDS, she can!
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By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Invisible Enemies is a book that will educate you about 7 diseases that helped shaped history, will make you respect the power of the tiny organisms we live with, and will not let you forget the most important part of any epidemic - the people. As a graduate student in the sciences, I was satisfied with the details about the diseases and fascinated by the details about the people.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't be fooled by the 'young adult' listing for this book -- anyone with an interest in biology or history will gobble up these well-researched, clearly-told tales of infectious disease. Chapters focus on smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, plague and AIDS, with an emphasis on the human conditions that made each disease so successful, and on the ways these scourges have altered the course of human history. I will be enthusiastic in recommending this book to graduate students in the School of Public Health where I teach.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book came in excellent condition. It is a great read and highly recommended if you don't need it for class. It gives a great history of certain diseases that we know, and also their modern implications.
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Format: Hardcover
I devoured this book quickly. It's a great read for anyone who loves reading about diseases and our history with them. I only wish it was longer because it was such a good book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved it. I ended up writing a term paper on globalization and disease. I used this and 4 other books as my topic creation. Well written and quick to read.
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