Parasites (Paperback)

Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests

By Rosemary Drisdelle

University of California Press, 9780520269774, 280pp.

Publication Date: August 10, 2010

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (8/10/2010)

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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.

About the Author

Rosemary Drisdelle is a writer and a clinical parasitologist living in Nova Scotia.

Praise For Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests

“Drisdelle is not only an experienced parasitologist and scientific author, but a creative genius. . . . Her writing style and narrative is so entertaining that one will want to keep turning this book’s pages to see what happens next.”

— P. M. Watt

“I highly recommend taking a deeper look into Drisdelle’s new book . . . You’ll be surprised by how much you learn and even more by how much you enjoy the read!”


“Drisdelle describes biological processes lovingly and beautifully . . . read Drisdelle for an education.”

— Anne Hardy

“Hookworm, roundworm, bed bugs, lice, trichinosis, sleeping sickness, scabies: these are some of the parasites and diseases that Drisdelle ably describes with mirth, occasional poetry, and an infectious scientific fascination, where the human story is an essential element of the natural history.”

— Scitech Book News

[”A] compulsively readable book.”

— Interaction / Bms Book News

“A superb introduction to and overview of parasites in some of their many fascinating and historically significant forms.”

— Well-Read Naturalist

“An interesting guide to what's eating you, literally! Not for the squeamish!”

— Ian Paulsen

“Drisdelle has written one of those rare books that is fun to read but does not skimp on scholarly rigor.”

— Janice Moore

“Parasites is a wonderful popular introduction to one of biology’s most fascinating lifestyles.”

— Mark Greener