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Arno Karlen

Biography of a germ

Anyone who goes for a walk in the woods in the USA should know about the need to guard against Lyme disease. But thinking about deer and their ticks tends to obscure the organism which is actually responsible, a bacterium called Borrelia burdorferi or Bb for short. This book tells its story, and of the challenges it faces as it moves between its various hosts. The book requires no previous knowledge of the subject, and teaches the reader a fair amount of biology along the way. Despite the nature of the subject, it makes an excellent choice for a little light reading.

Karlen tells us about the place of Bb in the classification and evolution of living things, of the development of the germ theory of disease and the reasons why this disease was first seen in Lyme (and what the inhabitants thought about having a disease named after their town).

I have to say though that I felt that the book didn't go into as much detail about Bb itself as I'd expected - maybe more bacteriology would have made the book seem too technical. I feel that it is more of the story of Lyme disease rather than of the organism that causes it.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews