Virus. Die Geschichte vom geborgten Leben

by Wolfhard Weidel, Direktor am Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie in Tübingen. 186 pp. (Verständliche Wissenschaft, Band 60). Berlin, Springer-Verlag. DM 7.80

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This book is volume 60 of a series written to inform the educated general reader, not the specialist. The series is called “Verständliche Wissenschaft” (clear, comprehensible science), but the style defeats this aim. The sentences are overly long, and their structure is excessively complicated. Some of the elaborate metaphors (“Fliessbänder laufen auf vollen Touren”) assume the role of official technical terms; they will be understood easily by the virologist, but they do not serve to make the information easily accessible to others who might be interested. It is difficult to see what audience this book will find in the United States. The qualities of the text require that the reader have an advanced knowledge of German and considerable curiosity about viruses.

The content is of good quality: the up-to-date information is systematically presented, and the position of the virus in the biological system is elucidated qualitatively.