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The Invisible Enemy:
Though the Berlin Wall has fallen, we find ourselves still struggling with an even older enemy in the eternal Common Cold War. Virologist Dorothy H Crawford has studied the link between Epstein-Barr virus and human cancer for years and casts a wary eye through the electron microscope to check up on them and report on our strange and occasionally deadly symbiosis in The Invisible Enemy.
This slim book, scholarly but accessible, examines these barely-living (or unliving, depending on whom you ask) gene packages with a strong emphasis on their disease-causing antics and the intellectual heroics of the various campaigns of eradication and control humans have waged for centuries. Though biological relativists might cringe occasionally at Crawford's dogged humanocentrism, few of them would really pine for the days of smallpox or embrace the raging HIV pandemic if pressed. Crawford looks at the wake of devastation left by these two viruses as well as her own favorite subject, which is strongly implicated in the formation of many cancers. Going a bit farther afield, she explains the weird behavior of the non-genetic reproduction of prions that cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy; though these scary proteins aren't viruses by any definition, their behavior is similar enough to warrant inclusion. The Invisible Enemy, calmer than its title would suggest, provokes a sense of optimism in the reader; though the war might last forever, we can hope for fewer and fewer casualties as the years go by.--Rob Lightner [via]