Recommended Books

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

by L. Gonick & M. Wheelis 1983 revised 1991 - Harper Perennial Library

A really fun explanation of some basic concepts in genetics/biology using cartoons.
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Biology For Every Kid - 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work

by J. Van Cleave 1990 - John Wiley & Sons

Great for adolescents.
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The Coming Plague

by L. Garrett - Farrar, Strauss & Giroux / New York

A very sophisticated and very well written account of various 20th century epidemics...from a social, political AND scientific standpoint. Reads like a novel. While Garrett is extremely well versed in public health issues (about 100 pages of the book are REFERENCES), she does make some simple mistakes when it comes to science. Still highly recommended. Don't be put off by 600 is easy to read, as well as pick up and put down. Laurie Garrett has also more recently written Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health - 2001, which is also quite long, fascinating and full of scary facts about diseases and our efforts to fight them.
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Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

by Matt Ridley 2000 - HarperCollins

New York Times Bestseller. I can't rave about this book enough. Ridley explores all of the issues surrounding the human genome project (and biology in the 21st century, for that matter, as it relates to everyone, not just scientists). Not overly technical, the book outlines what is fascinating about our DNA by picking a gene on each chromosome and relating it to current (and sometimes controversial) issues in biology. Sociology, politics, prehistory, sexuality, and more...all weaved into the story. Now also available in an abridged version for those of you with less time.
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Mountains beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer

by Tracy Kidder (2003)

Pulitzer Prize winner. It's fascinating (full of well explained stuff on modern problems with disease) as well as inspirational. Recommended by J.N.
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Secret Agents: the menace of emerging infections

by Madeline Drexler 2002 - Penguin Books

Pretty well written, VERY well researched...this is a very good overview of current and future health threats (west nile virus, food poisoning, bioterrorism, antibiotic resistance and more)
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The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox

by Jennifer Lee Carrell - E. P. Dutton, publishers (2003)

Fictional, but well researched and based on real events in Europe during the 18th century. Entertaining and educational!
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The Demon in the Freezer / The Hot Zone

by Richard Preston - Fawcett books, publishers (2003 / 1995)
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Virus Hunter : Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World

by Mark Olshaker (Author), C.J. Peters - Anchor Books/Doubleday; (1998)
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The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys Their Curative Powers

by Stuart B., MD Levy - Perseus Publishing (2002) has an excellent review from the New England Journal of Medicine. Look here ---> (see it)