Volume 17, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


There is no false modesty about this book. Its aim is expressed in its title; the list of contributors, together with the established reputation of the editor, suggests that the aim is not only desirable but also practicable. The approach to the problem is nothing if not fundamental: in fact, the opening chapter is on the origin of Life and some of the later chapters—, on paleoepidemiology, on parasitism, on basic principles of eradication—leave no doubt that we are going to begin at the beginning. The quest starts therefore with elements—carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen—from which we ascend, swiftly but authoritatively, to ammonia, urea, amino acids, purines, proteins to viruses, where we pause for breath before plunging into very deep waters indeed: how did primitive man acquire infectious agents, in what order, and at what stage in his development?


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