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Mass Market Books in Parasitology

By Dr. Thomas Platt

I am a book collector. I love to read about science and parasites in particular. There are tons of general audience books on paleontology, molecular biology, evolutionary biology and other disciplines. There aren’t that many about parasitology and I think that is a shame. I am absolutely convinced that there are folks in our society who are doing work that contain interesting and compelling stories the general public would love to know more about. Over my nearly half century in the field I have tried to find and purchase all the mass market books in our field I could. The following is a list of the book in my library with the publisher’s notes.

There are some I like better than others. I am not a book reviewer and I am not offering an opinion on any of them. My goal is make our membership aware of what’s out there. I am sure I’ve missed some. If you know of books that fit this “genre’ that I have missed, please let me know. Happy reading!

[Editor's Note: Please consider doing your shopping through You'll be instructed to pick the non-profit you want to support, and if you choose "American Society of Parasitologists Inc A New Mexico Nonprofit Corpo" then a portion of your sales will be donated to ASP. Thanks for your support!]


Desowitz, Robert. New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers – Tales of Parasites and People. ISBN-13: 978-0393304268 ISBN-10: 0393304264

A while ago, DDT and the antimalarial drug chloroquine seemed sure to make us all safe from such invisible assault. It was not to be. The mosquito has become resistant to DDT; malaria is on the rise; although tapeworms rarely turn up any longer in the most lovingly prepared New York City gefilte fish, a worm may inhabit your sashimi; some strains of gonorrhea actually thrive on penicillin; there is even a parasite for the higher tax brackets―the "nymph of Nantucket"; and there are new ailments―legionnaire's disease, Lassa fever, and new strains of influenza. In the long run, one might bet on the insects and the germs. Meanwhile Dr. Robert Desowitz has written a delightful and instructive book.


Desowitz, Robert. The Malaria Capers – Tales of Parasites and People. ISBN-13: 978- 0393310085 ISBN-10: 0393310086

Why, Robert S. Desowitz asks, has biotechnical research on malaria produced so little when it had promised so much? An expert in tropical diseases, Desowtiz searches for answers in this provocative book.


Desowitz, Robert. Who Gave Pinta to the Santa Maria? Torrid Diseases in a Temperate World. ISBN-13: 978-0393040845 ISBN-10: 0393040844

Arguing that tropical diseases such as malaria are as American as heart attacks, Desowitz (epidemiology, U. of North Carolina) chronicles this unwanted baggage from the first American immigrants 50,000 years ago to jet-hopping Doomsday microbes. Pinta, a strain of syphilis, was native Americans' revenge on Columbus.


Warren, Leonard. Joseph Leidy – The Last Man Who Knew Everything. ISBN-10: 0300073593 ISBN-13: 978-0300073591

Contemporaries of the modest and unassuming scientist Joseph Leidy (1823–91) revered him as the supreme consultant in questions relating to human anatomy, paleontology, protozoology, parasitology, anthropology, mineralogy, botany, and numerous other scientific fields. Leidy’s achievements and the breadth of his scientific interests and knowledge were astonishing. He seemed, in short, to be the man who knew everything.


Knudson, Roger M. Fearsome Fauna – A Field Guide to the Creatures That Live in You. ISBN-13: 978-0716733867 ISBN-10: 0716733862

Hypochondriacs beware-- would you believe the nastiest creatures in the known universe live inside our bodies? Not content to just find a home and produce offspring in our internal space, parasites will drink our blood, eat our cells, and infest our muscles. There is very little that can be said in their favor, with perhaps one exception-- they are truly fascinating!


Souder, William. A Plague of Frogs – The Horrifying True Story. ISBN-10: 0786863609 ISBN-13 : 978-0786863600

In the summer of 1995, a group of Minnesota children came upon a pond populated by frogs with nine legs, missing legs, a row of limbs fanning out from their backsides, and eyes in the wrong places. Since then, deformed frogs have been turning up in lakes around the world. Written by the only journalist granted access to secret hot spots where these deformed frogs are tested, and brainstorming sessions among the researchers, this compelling, fast-paced narrative is the first to offer a complete picture of what is quite possibly a global catastrophe in the making.

Zimmer, Carl. Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures. ISBN-10: 9780743200110 ISBN-13: 978-0743200110

For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and the darkest shadows of science. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer takes readers on a fantastic voyage into the secret universe of these extraordinary life-forms—which are not only among the most highly evolved on Earth, but make up the majority of life’s diversity. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the parasite-riddled war zone of southern Sudan, Zimmer introduces an array of amazing creatures that invade their hosts, prey on them from within, and control their behavior. He also vividly describes parasites that can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This comprehensive, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us all about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe—the laws of Parasite Rex.


Janovy, Jr., John Dunwoody Pond – Reflections on the High Plains Wetlands and the Cultivation of Naturalists. ISBN-10: 0803276168 ISBN-1: 978-0803276161

In a small and—to the untrained eye—unimpressive pond, microscopic life abounds, breeding myriad mysteries. Indeed, the mysteries ripple well beyond the pond's edge, where budding scientists stoop over their specimens, and one question in particular intrigues John Janovy: What makes these otherwise normal young people want to study parasites? The parasites that Janovy peers at in Dunwoody Pond, living their intricate lives on or in beetles, damselflies, frogs, toads, fish, and tiny crustaceans, are no less interesting and involved than the lives of the young scientists he observes in their pursuit of these microorganisms.


Janovy, Jr., John. Teaching in Eden – Lessons from Cedar Point. ISBN-10: 0415946670 ISBN-13: 978-0415946674

Teaching in Eden provides any teacher with powerful and virtually free tools that he or she can use to alter the fundamental nature of the educational experience. The tools are simple instructional devices that require only a teacher's time, and the courage to break out of the existing constraints to discover and assemble the elements of an ideal instructional environment.


Esch, Gerald W. Parasites, People, and Places – Essays on Field Parasitology. ISBN-10: 0521815495 ISBN-13: 978-0521815499

Professor Gerald W. Esch, one of the world's leading ecological parasitologists, presents a series of essays on classic examples of field parasitology. The essays focus on the significance of the work and its contribution to the field but also on the people and, particularly, the sites at which the work took place. Taken together, they represent a beautifully written account of the development of an entire field of scientific endeavor spanning a period of 50 years or more. While the essays are not meant to be academic in a scientific sense, they contain a great deal of science. The book will be of great value to all parasitologists and ecologists, but also to anyone interested in how biological field work is carried out and how it contributes to greater understanding of the natural world.


Combes, Claude. The Art of Being a Parasite. ISBN-10: 0226114384

ISBN-13: 978-0226114385

Parasites are a masterful work of evolutionary art. The tiny mite Histiostoma laboratorium, a parasite of Drosophila, launches itself, in an incredible display of evolutionary engineering, like a surface- to-air missile at a fruit fly far above its head. Gravid mussels such as Lampsilis ventricosa undulate excitedly as they release their parasitic larval offspring, conning greedy predators in search of a tasty meal into hosting the parasite. The Art of Being a Parasite is an extensive collection of these and other wonderful and weird stories that illuminate the ecology and evolution of interactions between species. Claude Combes illustrates what it means to be a parasite by considering every stage of its interactions, from invading to reproducing and leaving the host. An accessible and engaging follow-up to Combes's Parasitism, this book will be of interest to both scholars and nonspecialists in the fields of biodiversity, natural history, ecology, public health, and evolution.


Esch, Gerald W. Parasites and Infectious Disease. Discovery by Serendipity, and Otherwise. Online ISBN: 9780511619021

This series of entertaining essays provides a unique insight into some of the key discoveries that have shaped the field of parasitology. Based on interviews with 18 of the world's leading parasitologists and epidemiologists, the stories of their contributions to discovery in contemporary parasitology and infectious disease biology are told. Taken together, the essays provide a historical account of the development of the field, serving as a bridge between these discoveries and current research. The book provides a real insight into the thought processes and approaches taken in generating break through scientific discoveries, ranging from immunology to ecology and from malaria and trypanosomiasis to schistosomiasis and Lyme disease. This engaging and lively introduction to discovery in parasitology will be of interest to all those currently working in the field and will also serve to set the scene for future generations of parasitologists.

Zuk, Marlene. Riddled with Life. Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We Are. ISBN-10: 0156034689 ISBN- 13: 978-0156034685

From the earliest days of life on earth, disease has evolved alongside us. And its presence isn't just natural but is also essential to our health. Drawing on the latest research, Zuk answers a fascinating range of questions about disease: Why do men die younger than women? Why are we attracted to our mates? Why does the average male bird not have a penis? Why do we--as well as insects, birds, pigs, cows, goats, and even plants--get STDs? Why do we have sex at all, rather than simply splitting off copies of ourselves like certain geckos? And how is our obsession with cleanliness making us sicker? In this witty, engaging book, evolutionary biologist Zuk makes us rethink our instincts as she argues that disease is our partner, not our foe. Reconsider the fearsome parasite!


Dailey, Murray. The Worm Chronicles. A Memoir. ISBN-10: 1436365422 ISBN-13: 978-1436365420

THE WORM CHRONICLES: Is a memoir of a look into the bizarre world of an amazing group of animals that are little known by the public. It takes the reader around the globe looking for answers to such questions as why such intelligent animals as dolphins appear to commit suicide. Written primarily at the prompting of family and friends, the book would also interest the large population of people intrigued by the ocean and its animals. The book follows the challenges and discoveries of Murray Dailey, a pioneer marine parasitologist with over 40 years experience, as he and coworkers unlock the secrets of these unique animals. The reader is given a window into the approach used in solving the problems of some of the oceans deadliest creatures.

George, Rose. The Big Necessity. The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. ISBN-10 : 1250058309 ISBN-13 : 978-1250058300

Bodily waste is common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should―even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by bodily waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in the United States, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet, while the sewers of major cities worldwide are an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen. With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George's The Big Necessity breaks the silence, turning the taboo subject into a cause with the most serious of consequences.

Hotez, Peter J. Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases. The Neglected Tropical Diseases and Their Impact on Global Health and Development. ISBN-10: 1555816711 ISBN-13: 978-1555816711

Explains the most significant neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including social and economic aspects, public health concerns, and preventative measures. Addresses unique opportunities to fight the NTDs through low-cost and highly cost-effective control measures. Raises public awareness about these forgotten diseases and their enormous physical, social, and economic costs to individuals and nations alike, and advocates for the largely voiceless victims living in remote and rural regions. Provides a roadmap to coordinate global advocacy and mobilization of resources to combat these conditions. Conveys important information about this critical global health problem in nontechnical language. Explains the links between global health and international economic development. Provides information on individuals, companies, and foundations involved in advocacy for the NTDs.


Crompton, D.W.T. Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter. ISBN-10: 0956069010 ISBN-13: 978-0956069016

I could not find any publisher’s notes on this book. Dr. Crompton’s work on ascariasis and other subjects is well known.


Shah, Sonia. The Fever. How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years. ISBN-10: 0312573014 ISBN-13: 978-0312573010

In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause celebre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have lent their names--and opened their pocketbooks--in hopes of stopping the disease. Still, in a time when every emergent disease inspires waves of panic, why aren't we doing more to tame one of our oldest foes? And how does a pathogen that we've known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly one million of them?

In The Fever, journalist Sonia Shah sets out to answer those questions, delivering a timely, inquisitive chronicle of the illness and its influence on human lives. Through the centuries, she finds, we've invested our hopes in a panoply of drugs and technologies, and invariably those hopes have been dashed. From the settling of the New World to the construction of the Panama Canal, through wartimes and the advances of the Industrial Revolution, Shah tracks malaria's jagged ascent and the tragedies in its wake, revealing a parasite every bit as persistent as the insects that carry it.

With distinguished prose and original reporting from Panama, Malawi, Cameroon, India, and elsewhere, The Fever captures the curiously fascinating, devastating history of this long-standing thorn in the side of humanity.

Kaplan, Eugene H. What’s Eating You? Parasites and People. ISBN-10: 0691141401 ISBN-13: 978-0691141404

In What's Eating You? Eugene Kaplan recounts the true and harrowing tales of his adventures with parasites, and in the process introduces readers to the intimately interwoven lives of host and parasite. Kaplan has spent his life traveling the globe exploring oceans and jungles, and incidentally acquiring parasites in his gut. Here, he leads readers on an unforgettable journey into the bizarre yet oddly beautiful world of parasites. In a narrative that is by turns frightening, disgusting, and laugh-out-loud funny, Kaplan describes how drinking contaminated water can cause a three-foot-long worm to burst from your arm; how he "gave birth" to a parasite the size and thickness of a pencil while working in Israel; why you should never wave a dead snake in front of your privates; and why fleas are attracted to his wife. Kaplan tells stories about leeches feasting on soldiers in Vietnam; sea cucumbers with teeth in their anuses that seem to encourage the entry of symbiotic fish; the habits of parasites that cause dysentery, river blindness, and other horrifying diseases--and much, much more. Along the way, he explains the underlying science, including parasite evolution and host-parasite physiology. Informative, frequently lurid, and hugely entertaining, this beautifully illustrated book is a must- read for health-conscious travelers, and anyone who has ever wondered if they picked up a tapeworm from that last sushi dinner.

Drisdelle, Rosemary. Parasites. Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests. ISBN-10: 0520269772 ISBN-13: 978-0520269774

Hidden away within living tissues, parasites are all around us--and inside us. Yet, despite their unsavory characteristics, as we find in this compulsively readable book, parasites have played an enormous role in civilizations through time and around the globe. Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests puts amoebae, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and others at the center of the action as human cultures have evolved and declined. It shows their role in exploration, war, and even terrorist plots, often through an unpredictable ripple effect. It reveals them as invisible threats in our food, water, and luggage; as invaders that have shaped behaviors and taboos; and as unexpected partners in such venues as crime scene investigations. Parasites also describes their evolution and life histories and considers their significant benefits. Deftly blending the sociological with the scientific, this natural and social history of parasites looks closely at a fascinating, often disgusting group of organisms and discovers that they are in fact an integral thread in the web of life.


Dunn, Rob. The Wild Life of Our Bodies. Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today. ISBN-10: 0061806463 ISBN-13: 978-0061806469

Biologist Rob Dunn reveals the crucial influence that other species have upon our health, our well being, and our world in The Wild Life of Our Bodies―a fascinating tour through the hidden truths of nature and codependence. Dunn illuminates the nuanced, often imperceptible relationships that exist between homo sapiens and other species, relationships that underpin humanity’s ability to thrive and prosper in every circumstance. Readers of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma will be enthralled by Dunn’s powerful, lucid exploration of the role that humankind plays within the greater web of life on Earth.


Despommier, Dickenson D. People, Parasites, and Plowshares. Learning from Our Bodies Most Terrifying Invaders. ISBN-10: 0231161948 ISBN-13: 978-0231161947

Dickson D. Despommier's vivid, visceral account of the biology, behavior, and history of parasites follows the interplay between these fascinating life forms and human society over thousands of years. Despommier focuses on long-term host-parasite associations, which have evolved to avoid or even subvert the human immune system. Some parasites do great damage to their hosts, while others have signed a kind of "peace treaty" in exchange for their long lives within them. Many parasites also practice clever survival strategies that medical scientists hope to mimic as they search for treatments for Crohn's disease, food allergies, type 1 diabetes, organ transplantation, and other medical challenges. Despommier concentrates on particularly remarkable and often highly pathogenic organisms, describing their lifecycles and the mechanisms they use to avoid elimination. He details their attack and survival plans and the nature of the illnesses they cause in general terms, enabling readers of all backgrounds to steal a glimpse into the secret work of such effective invaders. He also points to the cultural contexts in which these parasites thrive and reviews the current treatments available to defeat them. Encouraging scientists to continue to study these organisms even if their threat is largely contained, Despommier shows how closer dissection of the substances parasites produce to alter our response to them could help unravel some of our most complex medical conundrums.


Esch, Gerald W. Ecological Parasitology – Reflections on 50 Years of Research in Aquatic Ecosystems. ISBN-10 : 9781118874677 ISBN-13 : 978-1118874677

Professor Gerald Esch has already published two books in what is becoming an informal series of essays exploring the way that discoveries about the biology of parasites have influenced ecological and evolutionary theories over a career that has spanned nearly 50 years. This book will be the third set of essays and will focus on key moments of discovery and explore how these achievements were due to collaboration, mentoring, and community building within the field of ecological parasitology. The book will not only describe case studies, pure science and biology but also act as a career guide for early-career ecologists emphasizing the importance of collaboration in the advancement of science.


McAuliffe, Kathleen. This Is Your Brain on Parasites. How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society. ISBN-10: 0544947258 ISBN-13: 978-0544947252

Parasites can live only inside another animal and, as Kathleen McAuliffe reveals, these tiny organisms have many evolutionary motives for manipulating the behavior of their hosts. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to their influence. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness and impulsivity—even suicide. Germs that cause colds and the flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent. Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. Drawing on a huge body of research, McAuliffe argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites. The horror and revulsion we are programmed to feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.


Kwa, Boo H. The Parasite Chronicles. My Lifelong Odyssey Among the Parasites that Cause Human Disease. ASIN : B07C91W6Z8

This book introduces the reader to the fascinating world of parasites that cause human disease. It is written in a first-person style relating anecdotes and personal encounters of parasites by the author. It tells stories about exotic parasites diseases, interesting factoids about the life history of unusual parasites species, and strange ways in which humans can become infected. However, this is also a serious topic, as there is increasing movement of populations and goods occurring in a globalized world, resulting in previously exotic parasites being brought into new regions of the world. This book about parasite infections will be of interest to business travelers and tourists alike, and the book discusses simple common sense ways to avoid them.


Stock, Michael. The Flying Zoo. Birds, Parasites, and the World They Share. ISBN-10: 1772123749 ISBN-13 : 978-1772123746

"My work as a scientist who studies bird parasites causes me to wonder about the hidden part of the drama unfolding before my eyes: the flying zoo that makes each bird what it is. As I gaze out at my favourite birds, I wonder what role their parasites have played in shaping their fascinating behaviours and alluring appearance." ― From Chapter 1In The Flying Zoo, Michael Stock gives readers an enthusiastic tribute to birds and the parasites that live in and on them. From the Crozet Archipelago and the Galapagos Islands to our own backyards, parasites―fleas, lice, ticks, and flukes―live in a sinister yet symbiotic relationship with their host birds. With a scientist's exuberance, Stock reveals a co-evolutionary dance among an astounding cast of creatures living in a complex and paradoxical co-habitation. Following in the footsteps of Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos, this contemporary classic deserves a place on the shelves of students and teachers of biology, natural history buffs, and birders.


Campbell, William C. Catching the Worm: Towards Ending River Blindness, and Reflections on My Life. ISBN-10: 1911479334 ISBN-13: 978-1911479338

In 2015, Dr William C. Campbell's quiet retirement changed abruptly when, at the age of 85, he won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In Catching The Worm - A Memoir, Campbell recalls his early life in Donegal and studying zoology in Trinity College Dublin, then moving to the United States to work as a parasitologist. While working with the company Merck, he helped to discover several drugs to control parasitic worms. One of those drugs, ivermectin, has spared millions of people from the devastating effects of river blindness. Through his memoir, Campbell provides a snapshot of growing up in Ireland before and during World War II, as well as insights into science, the arts, teaching, family and what really matters in life.

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