Friday, April 14, 2006

Booktalk Friday: Invisible Enemies

Invisible Enemies: Stories of Infectious Disease, by Jeanette Farrell

For some reason, it’s hard for me to convince anyone that a book about infectious diseases is a fascinating, fast-paced adventure filled with illuminating facts, chilling rumors and remarkable discoveries as engrossing as any high-profile thriller. Perhaps the lack of enthusiasm stems from my overuse of “ing” words? Or does the skepticism lie deeper in the bowels of fear and misunderstanding? For example, leprosy, once considered a highly communicable scourge that represented sinfulness and subjected its victims to isolation and exile, is actually a treatable, non-fatal bacterial infection that we now refer to as Hansen’s Disease. Six other infectious diseases (smallpox, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS) all get their own chapters. Each one has a compelling story. Some of the stories have happy endings, while others are still mysteries in progress.

Have I convinced you yet? I suspect that I haven’t. I’ll tell you what: just pick up the book and read the introduction. Normally, I’m not much of a mystery/thriller reader, but if more fiction books of that genre were written like Invisible Enemies, I think I’d be a fan.

A companion book called Invisible Allies: Microbes That Shape Our Lives, was published last year. I’m going to read it, and not just because a friend of mine reviewed the book for School Library Journal. If there are indeed beneficial microbes in chocolate, then I want to know all about them!


Noodle said...

I'll probably read it! I read Plagues and Peoples by William McNeill several years ago, and I found it fascinating. :o)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...


I just got a note from my friend who reviewed the sequel (Maren, thanks so much for the email and yes, I will write soon soon soon), and I found out from her that the author is local to the Puget Sound Area. I'm not sure how local, but I would like to show up for a book reading sometime.

Fridaysweb said...

I'm going to send a link of this post to our pal Labbie. This is right up his alley, as he's continuing his education, hoping to work for the CDC someday. I bet he'll love it!