Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers...random thoughts


New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites and People by Robert S. Desowitz.

No clue how to review this book. None at all. But since I read it for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, I guess I have to at least make an effort. Though frankly, I do not foresee convincing anyone to go pick up this book. Not because I didn't enjoy it, I'm just not sure how many people who read my blog are looking to brush up on their knowledge of parasites. Then again, who knows. :)

This was quite a different kind of read for me. Aside from stuff for homeschooling, the only science-type reading I generally do is more of a natural history nature. So, this was horizon expanding, to say the least.

I worried a bit before starting that this book might be above my head, not being a scientist myself. There were a few times when I had to reread a page here and there when he got to talking about evolutionary biology and speciation in parasites, but overall it was very lay-person friendly. The above mentioned parts were also the least interesting to me, and luckily didn't take up much of the book.

In fact, really the major focus of the book was more about how man-made ecological and environmental changes have historically been to blame for making infectious diseases worse. The book is full of examples illustrating this. In some instances, these environmental changes have even been made with the best of intentions, yet have still had catastrophic results. And often, the results are unknown to the world at large because they affect the poorest of the world's people.

Unfortunately, this book was written in the 1980s, and things can change a lot in that amount of time...I really hope to follow up on some of these stories if I can. In fact, this book interested me so much, that I ended up picking up a book from the library titled Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them by Mark Jerome Walters.

On an unrelated note, Eva has mentioned in the past that science writers tend to have this compulsion to try to be funny, but often fall short. I think think you could place this scientist in that category, too. But honestly, his attempts at humor never really bothered me.

*****

If you have also reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I'll add it here. Thanks.

*****

Read for:

The Non-Fiction Five Reading Challenge.

3 comments:

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Oh my. That has to win "Title of the Year" for me, LOL! I totally and completely admire you for even attempting to read it, much less try to review it :)

Heather J. said...

strangely fascinating ... I really might have to read this one - thanks!

Nymeth said...

"really the major focus of the book was more about how man-made ecological and environmental changes have historically been to blame for making infectious diseases worse"

Hmmm, this definitely peaks my interest.