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The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease Paperback – December 1, 2002


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The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease + Killer Germs + The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312306016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312306014
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As a "bugs and drugs doc," Pamela Nagami has seen some of the worst diseases known to humankind--flesh-eating strep, parasitic worms that zigzag through the brain, and AIDS, the biggest infectious disease emergency around. Some of the infections profiled in Maneater can smolder for years before rearing up and killing their unsuspecting human host; others seem innocuous, like chickenpox, which can nevertheless devastate a body. Others, like malaria, travel from other countries, but equally dangerous microbes live in American soil, just waiting to be disturbed by a backhoe or a runner and inhaled in a single breath. These indelible dispatches from the frontlines of infectious disease reveal the danger lurking in everything from salads to the air we breathe, the heroic actions of doctors faced with these bizarre cases on a daily basis, and the limits of medical miracles. Like a detective unraveling a crime scene, Nagami shows us how the most innocuous actions can hurt us, or save our lives. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Nagami zooms in like a microscope on infections. She presents them, with all their drama, in the context of how they alter patients' and doctors' lives. Along the way, she conveys an amazing amount of medical information that's easy to absorb. Using her sharp storytelling skills, she illustrates for us how vulnerable we all are to microscopic intruders and how having the right doctor on our side can mean the difference between living and becoming another statistic in the morbidity reports."—Jane E. Allen, Los Angeles Times

"In the tradition of Microbe Hunters, The Woman with a Worm in Her Head is a fascinating account of a physician's struggles on behalf of her patients against the terrifying underworld of infectious diseases. Dr. Nagami is a compelling writer whose insatiable curiosity about bacteria and viruses never comes at the expense of those who suffer from them."—Frank Huyler, M.D., author of The Blood of Strangers

"The Woman with a Worm in Her Head brings us the excitement of the fight against infections, the human drama that surrounds their impact, and helps us understand how to avoid them. The reader will be swept up in the detective story behind finding the culprits and the human story that surrounds each case. This book successfully explores the interface between the sick patient and the all-too-human physician who comes with implacable weapons of modern medical technology, but more important, her own feelings, strengths, and weaknesses."—C.J. Peters, M.D., author of Virus Hunter

"A physician of great medical skills and writing talent . . . Nagami, in her fine book, conveys her humanness, warmth, and caring concern as a physician, and as a person. She helps reestablish our faith in medical practice. After reading The Woman with a Worm in Her Head, at the first sign of microbial invasion you would want to call her to take care of you. I know I would."—Robert S. Desowitz, Ph.D., author of The Malaria Capers

"[In The Woman with a Worm in Her Head] the vigor of hope is preserved, even in the face of the final incapacity. The depth of a humane vision is maintained to the end. The physician's own failings and shortcomings (for there is a limit to medical skills, despite the much-vaunted progress) are made into a route of escape from a ruinous sense of superiority . . . We all enjoy the physician's chronicle of the mighty struggle. It is a war that concerns us all, whose episodes are always fascinating. All the more so when told, as in these pages directly, truthfully, and clearly, by a front-line veteran."—F. Gonzalez-Crussi, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Pathology (from the foreword to Maneater)

"Gripping . . . clear and engaging . . . if you can stand excursions into the gut-wrenching, high-risk precincts of medical science, you will read and enjoy this from beginning to end."—Arno Karlen, The Washington Post

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The case stories were so interesting, I didn't want to put the book down!
Amber E. Johnson
The author was successful in writing the book so the layman could easily understand the language.
Brenda Pink
..Doctor works in a hospital in California with Aids and unique Infectious Disease patients.
SchoolMom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Hal Grotke on December 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
OK, first my prejudice--I am a resident physician working in the hospital where Dr. Nagami spends most of her professional time in recent years. She volunteers her time to teach me and my colleagues about infectious disease as well as her other specialties, internal medicine and geriatrics. She is brilliant in every way a resident would like an attending to be--knowledgable, insightful, out-going, pleasant, extraordinarily respectful of everyone around her, funny and overflowing with stories of her invaluable experiences.
That said I love her book. It helps that I recognize many of the characters. It helps, too, that I can hear her voice as I read it (partly because she has read excerpts to us on rounds). It is, nonetheless, an inspiring, touching, and, yes, educational work. Oh, and even though physicians who read it will find it educational that does not mean that it is in any way outside comprehension of other readers. I was tempted to skim past some of the short, plain language explanations aimed at the lay reader, but found even those sections to be helpful to the flow of the text. Not condescending, not verbose--just part of the story.
This is a wonderful book I would recommend to anyone. Sure it has particular appeal to those with special interest in health-related issues, it is also a pleasant look at humanism and spirituality.
Thanks, Dr. Nagami.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Pamela Nagami M.D.'s Maneater is one of the most fascinating books I've read as a med student, and one of the most captivating reads I've had in a long time. Her detailed explanation of various diseases that so many people are ignorant of was more intriguing and exciting than any lecture I've ever attended. I highly recommend it not only to the curious med student, but anyone who wants to learn how the simplest actions in life can prove to be the most deadly.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kyu Kang on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My girlfriend gave me this book because of my interest in medicine. I expected to find a dry account of several cases of diseases, but what I got instead was a gripping account of one inspirational doctor's career in the dangerous field of infectious diseases. Dr. Nagami not only lets you inside her field, but also inside her head as you read what it is like to make life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. The tales were shocking, but also extremely informative and exciting. This reads almost like a detective novel, with Dr. Nagami searching for the invaders that are ruining her patients' bodies. An overall excellent book that will keep you entertained for hours.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kyle on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A good friend recommended this book as both an unusual yet impossible to put down biography. She was correct. Dr. Nagami describes what life is like for a doctors who work with the diseases other doctors don't want to, or know how to treat. Stuff like flesh eating strep, wild parasites and worms, chickenpox etc. This is truly one of the best bio's I've had my hands on because Dr. Nagami not only describes the guts and glory of her work but details an unusual human side to life in the diseased world. Her perspective was very different from what I had guessed. This book makes you think about life.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alex Krooglik on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you like medicine and the human condition but never really wanted to be a doctor, this is a book you will enjoy. Pamela Nagami is an infectious disease expert and brings her full experience to bear as we see in each of the mini cases she writes about in this book.

If you enjoy Oliver Sacks' books such as "Awakenings" or "The Island of the Color Blind", you will enjoy Pamela Nagami. Dr. Nagami also has a newer book out "Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings" that is equally as compelling.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is an amazing compilation of stories that will intrigue and fascinate you. Written from a very human and touching perspective by an infectious disease specialist, Maneater kept me entertained up until the very last paragraph. I would recommend this to anyone interested in diseases, medicine, health, or anyone just looking for a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LDM on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is certainly a well-written book about rare infectious diseases and rare manifestations of ordinary diseases. The author exhibits great feeling for the critically ill patients she cares for, as well as their problems and social difficulties. But this is not a book remotely like the works of Paul deKruif, Deborah Hayden, Berton Rouche, and others. The author is NOT a journalist or an academic researcher. She is a front-line clinician, which leads her to bring a depth of personal feeling (and tragedy) to these stories that is quite lacking from most tales of medical triumphs and tragedies.

Unfortunately, medical science is moving much more rapidly than such feeling case histories (spanning a lifetime of service) can make it to the public (even the limited audience for this book). This means the cases are true to the historical state of medical technology and present occasional questions to an informed reader. To her credit, Ms. Nagami pulls no punches about the fact that many of her expiring patients die from iatrogenic effects of their treatment, rather than the original disease. Similarly, although she points out where historical errors were made in diagnosis and treatment, the less obvious mistakes which only became apparent in retrospect due to the continuing development of medical technology necessarily go unrecognized in her book. (If it remains in print for a long time it could be updated.) She also tells of a few obvious instances of inadequate or marginally competent medical care, but lets them pass without judgmental comment.

In short, this is a very unusual book. Few clinicians have enough time to write for a popular audience.
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