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Where the Germs Are: A Scientific Safari

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"'Dirty! Don't touch! Yuck! Feh! You don't know where it's been!' These admonitions ring in our ears-for some of us our earliest memories of parental exhortation, for others the indelible mark of our deepest fears. Germs, as we know, are everywhere, lying in wait to attack the inadequately vigilant or insufficiently armed, gangs of serial killers on a random search for their next victim. We do not mock. Well, maybe we mock a little, but in fact, mother (or father) does sometimes know best-some germs can be very nasty invaders indeed. Yet we live in a world of microbes-some dreadful, some harmless, some essential to our continued life on earth. Knowing which to avoid, which to eliminate, and which just to live happily with can turn fearful warnings into reasoned discourse, and trembling terror into intelligent action."
--From the Preface

What do microbes have to do with your pets, your kids, your supermarket, your laundry, your sex life, your vacation at the beach, and your dinner plans for Saturday night? Plenty, as it turns out, and you'll learn all about it in Where the Germs Are.

This doesn't mean you have to panic, run out and buy every one of the more than 700 antibacterial products now on the market, dress in surgical scrubs, or live in a plastic bubble. In fact, most of the germs we live with are harmless, and some are positively delightful-like the ones that make grapes into wine, give yogurt its tang and cheeses their multitude of flavors, and lend sourdough bread its satisfying bite and aroma. But of course there are a nasty few that it would be good to avoid, and avoiding them means knowing something of the way they behave. Where the Germs Are is an intelligent, well-informed, scientifically accurate, and often delightfully funny guide to microbe country. Why not stop by for a spell-after all, you're already there.

About the Author

NICHOLAS BAKALAR is a New York-based writer and book editor. He is the author or coauthor of ten books, including Understanding Teenage Depression, Hepatitis A to G, Wiping Out Head Lice, and AIDS and People with Severe Mental Illness.
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