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Killer Germs 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-9785411000
ISBN-10: 0071409262
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Discover the unseen assassins that plague humanity

Until recently, most of us went about our daily lives with a false sense of public health security. Epidemics were a thing of the past, the AIDS crisis had diminished, and an annual vaccination kept the flu at bay.

Then, in late 2001, all of those illusions of public health safety were suddenly shattered. A litany of terrifying images and events became all to familiar, from federal agents surreally swathed in biohazard suits to the daily evacuation of major government buildings for anthrax decontamination. The lethal power of microscopic organisms--no longer confined to the lab---permeated our collective psyches, forcing us to confront the serious threat posed by killer germs.

This updated edition of Barry and David Zimmerman's classic on the subject offers a riveting retrospective of the havoc-wreaking microbes of the past as well as an engrossing exploration of emerging threats, including a new chapter on bioterrorism. In these pages, you'll discover:

  • What makes smallpox the most potentially devastating of all bioweapons, and how prepared we are to fight it
  • Why tuberculosis--already responsible for 2 billion deaths--is on the rise in the United States, Canada, and Europe
  • How antibiotic overload might one day turn a simple paper cut or skinned knee into a source of fatal infection
  • Why virologists fear that an easily transmissible, highly virulent superflu--strong enough to rival the strain that killed millions in 1918--is imminent

From the bygone bubonic plague to the modern nightmare of Ebola, Killer Germs offers a fascinating examination of the horrors humanity has faced and the actions required to provide hope for the future.

About the Author

Barry Zimmerman and David Zimmerman are both science teachers and authors of Why Nothing Can Travel Faster Than Light . . . and Other Explorations in Nature's Curiosity Shop.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (September 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071409262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071409261
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Personally I'm no microbiologist, however after reading this book I have thought of changing majors. Simply because the world of Germs is so fascinating, more so than I ever imagined. Prior to having read this book I only started to study about viruses & bacterias from online sites on the subject. What I really enjoyed were the first three Chapters: Origins of Disease, Germs & Disease: A brief History, Magic Bullets, these chapters are highly educational on the history of Microbes & Man's interaction with these hidden beings.
I enjoyed the chapter New Kids on the Block, Flesh Eating Bacteria, & other stealth Killers. This book makes you question which creatures are really at the top of the Food Chain. I'd place my bet on the Microbial world This book is as fascinating as the Hot Zone if not more so because of it's educational value, a book that belongs in every one's bookshelf. Buy it! You will be pleased with it! -Nick-
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This was an excellent piece of a fascinating and frightening look at germs. The Zimmerman Brothers explain the technical side of medicine and diseases with such clarity and understanding that I couldn't put the book down. If you are intrigued by germs, the fathers of medicine that paved the way for medical advancement, and the truth about how vulnerable we are, this is a can't-miss. One of the most important pieces, I think, are antibiotic-resistant strains of organims caused, in large part, by our own naivete.
"Killer Germs" is by far the best of the field I have ever read.
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Format: Paperback
Killer Germs is comprehensive study of human pathogens that weaves in enough history and human interest stories to make it fascinating reading. I use it as my textbook in my Infectious Diseases course at the University of Missouri and the students actually read it. One student said in my course evaluations, "Thanks for picking a textbook that is enjoyable to read! I read it twice this semester and bought a copy for my Dad for his birthday."
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I've should have checked the expiration date. Truly, not a bad book on the subject all though I expected a bit more dept.
There is very little here that is not covered in "The coming plague" or historically better told in "the microbe hunters", and both books are much older than this one. Scary re-scenarios of hemorrhagic fever? Go to "the Hot zone".
I expected a better bioterrorism chapter, but most of it focuses on making the case of "Saddam Hussein has bio-weapons" which, in the advantage of hind site, diminishes the importance of the chapter. Does not even mention the japanese Bio-weapons program and the infamous Unit 731. A couple of good points on national prevention and individual preparation are raised.

Buy it second hand or wait for a new version.
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Format: Paperback
I used this book for one of my classes and I was dreading having to read a book about biology and diseases. After reading the first chapter I got hooked, and couldn't set the book down. I read it in three days while I was out hiking in the woods and it made me a little paranoid about ticks that might be in the grass and other insects! The book definitely makes you think about every living organism that is around you, on you, and inside you.

This is by no means a detailed book about any particular disease, bacteria, or virus. However, it is the perfect book for somebody who has never taken an interest in diseases or epidemics. It is very easy to read and entertaining.
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By A Customer on December 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
Killer Germs is an excellent book for any and everybody who has an interest in diseases and how they effect mankind. Topics covered include the antibacterial resistance that many microbes have acquired, ebola, AIDS, dengue, hantavirus and many other emerging viruses. The book has an excellent conversational tone and is written simply enough for non-science undergrad major such as myself to understand. Recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about today's emerging viruses.
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I studied biology in college, and took elective courses in Virology and Parasitology, and am now in a microbiology PhD program. My husband and I decided to use this edition for a community book group discussion, at the recommendation of a high school biology teacher who uses the book in his course.

I would agree with other reviews that it is a very light and easy read in terms of the authors' writing style. This makes it very accessible to lay people. Also, I think the authors did a good job in their choice of which pathogens to include and to exclude from discussion. The chapters with a historical emphasis move to quickly for the narrative to be deeply engaging. I recommend 'The Demon Under the Microscope' for a great novel-like read on early work in microbiology/anti-biotics.

I was disappointed that there was no mention of pro-biotic approaches to anti-biotic resistant bugs. While I am extremely optimistic about pro-biotic approaches (such as fecal transplants) and will be sure to discuss them at our library event - these developments are more recent than the book. Throughout the text I wrote corrections in the margins for the authors' errors the biology of various pathogens. Nothing huge - but small errors frequent enough to annoy me.

I would endorse this book only as a 'primer' or a crash course, and only for a curious layman or young student - because there is so much more fascinating complexity in the biology, ecology, and epidemiology of these killer germs that are not discussed in the book.
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