A Planet of Viruses

Third Edition

Carl Zimmer

A Planet of Viruses

Carl Zimmer

144 pages | 24 halftones | 5 x 7 | © 2021
Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780226782591 Will Publish March 2021
E-book $15.00 ISBN: 9780226782621 Will Publish March 2021
In 2020, an invisible germ—a virus—wholly upended our lives. We’re most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or Covid-19. But viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.
Fully revised and updated, with new illustrations and a new chapter about coronaviruses and the spread of Covid-19, this third edition of Carl Zimmer’s A Planet of Viruses pulls back the veil on this hidden world. It presents the latest research on how viruses hold sway over our lives and our biosphere, how viruses helped give rise to the first life-forms, how viruses are producing new diseases, how we can harness viruses for our own ends, and how viruses will continue to control our fate as long as life endures.
Foreword by Judy Diamond and Charles Wood

“A Contagious Living Fluid”: Tobacco Mosaic Virus and the Discovery of the Virosphere

The Uncommon Cold: How Rhinoviruses Gently Conquered the World
Looking Down from the Stars: Influenza’s Never-Ending Reinvention
Rabbits with Horns: Human Papillomavirus and Infectious Cancer

The Enemy of Our Enemy: Bacteriophages as Viral Medicine
The Infected Ocean: How Marine Phages Rule the Sea
Our Inner Parasites: Endogenous Retroviruses and Our Virus-Riddled Genomes

The Young Scourge: Human Immunodeficiency Virus and the Animal Origins of Diseases
Becoming an American: The Globalization of West Nile Virus
The Pandemic Age: Why COVID-19 Should Have Come as No Surprise
The Long Goodbye: The Delayed Oblivion of Smallpox

The Alien in the Water Cooler: Giant Viruses and What It Means to Be a Virus

Selected References
Review Quotes
Washington Post, on the first edition
“Zimmer reshapes our understanding of the hidden realities at the core of everyday existence. . . . Concise and illuminating.”
Guardian, on the first edition
“Succinct yet elegantly written. . . . A fascinating and enlightening introduction.”
Forbes, on the first edition
“Just about everything you’ve always wanted to know—and a lot you’ll probably wish you didn’t know—about the viruses that have caused humanity so much grief throughout history.”
Booklist, starred review, on the first edition
“Absolutely top-drawer popular science writing. . . . Zimmer’s information-packed, superbly readable look at virological knowledge awakens readers to the fact that not only are viruses everywhere but we couldn’t live without them.”
Boing Boing, on the first edition
“A smart, beautiful, and somewhat demented picture book that’s likely to give you a case of the willies. In the best way possible.”
Science News, on the first edition
“As with any great journey, this virtual tour opens your eyes and expands your horizons. . . . Reading Zimmer’s work is like hanging out with the smartest, most interesting guy you have ever met as he regales you with tales of his travels and fascinating finds along the way.”
Rebecca Skloot, author of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" | on the first edition
“Zimmer is one of the best science writers we have today. A Planet of Viruses is an important primer on the viruses living within and around all of us—sometimes funny, other times shocking, and always accessible. Whether discussing the common cold and flu, little-known viruses that attack bacteria or protect oceans, or the world’s viral future as seen through our encounters with HIV or SARS, Zimmer’s writing is lively, knowledgeable, and graced with poetic touches.”
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