Hidden away within living tissues, parasites are all around us—and inside us. Yet, despite their unsavory characteristics, as we find in this compulsively readable book, parasites have played an enormous role in civilizations through time and around the globe. Parasites: Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests puts amoebae, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and others at the center of the action as human cultures have evolved and declined. It shows their role in exploration, war, and even terrorist plots, often through an unpredictable ripple effect. It reveals them as invisible threats in our food, water, and luggage; as invaders that have shaped behaviors and taboos; and as unexpected partners in such venues as crime scene investigations. Parasites also describes their evolution and life histories and considers their significant benefits. Deftly blending the sociological with the scientific, this natural and social history of parasites looks closely at a fascinating, often disgusting group of organisms and discovers that they are in fact an integral thread in the web of life.
List of Illustrations
Parasites that have changed human history
2. Market of Peril
Parasites versus food safety regulations—is anything safe to eat?
3. Drinking-Water Advisory
How parasites get into our water and what we try to do about it
4. Illegal Aliens
The unintentional but persistent global movement of parasites by humans
5. Parasites in Control
As in science fiction, some parasites do take over their hosts
6. In the House of Mirrors
Good, bad, and imaginary—the cultural meanings and practical uses of parasites, and the power of fear
7. The Parasite Felonies
Criminals who cast their lot in with parasites
8. Emerging Parasites
The ones that seem to come out of nowhere, and where they really come from
9. Parasite Extinction
Can we ever get rid of these unwelcome guests?
Selected Bibliography and Additional Reading
Rosemary Drisdelle is a writer and a clinical parasitologist living in Nova Scotia.
"A very good read! Lots of parasite stories told in a compelling way."—Dickson Despommier, Emeritus Professor, Columbia University
"In her newest book, Rosemary Drisdelle gives us a fresh and exciting spin on the past and current history of parasites; a far too often disdained and ignored presence among us. Drisdelle's anecdotes make one of society's most dreaded entities accessible as well as enjoyable. Parasites and its historical insights have the ability to change society's view of and response to parasites amongst us."—Richard Saffern, bedbug.com