by Robin Marantz Henig, 269 pp, with illus, $23, ISBN 0-394-58878-9, New York, NY, Alfred A. Knopf Inc, 1993.
Henig's intention, in this book designed for general readership, is to explore contemporary virological thinking and explain the phenomenon of viral emergence.
From chapter 1, a review of "Why New Viruses Emerge," she moves smartly on to a detailed account of the emergence of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). With the reader well hooked, she devotes chapter 3 to "A Virus Primer." For any JAMA subscribers who fancy writing for a general readership, here is a test. You have 24 pages in which to describe the structure, function, and variety of viruses; how they interact with the host cell's nuclear machinery; how the organism defends itself; and how viruses cause illness. If you can match Henig's neat and pacey sketch and her grip on the reader's interest, then a profitable sideline career awaits you.
The second section of the book, "New Threats," covers a series of intriguing virus stories, most
Loudon MF. A Dancing Matrix: Voyages Along the Viral Frontier. JAMA. 1993;270(3):385. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510030109049