See review in Biologist magazine.
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Book Review

Genes, the Fight for Life

Genes (p/b)

The title of this book is a bit of a jump on the bandwagon of the latest trend in science, because the contents supply only a
little in the way of discussion about genes. The fight for life moieity is covered more than adequately, however. The author sets
the scene by saying:“in this book I want to celebrate the supremacy of the cell”.

His descriptions of the biology of unicellular organisms reflect the diversity of life on the planet, and how cells have
adapted to their particular environments. Stern warnings are also administered on the dangers of the human race’s
interventions in these matters. These warning can sometimes be a little patronising, but are often incisive. The essence of bleach
manufacturers playing with the public fears is castigated quite rightly. However, I found the discourse on the extreme responses
to the never seen perils of HIV and BSE a little annoying. I personally feel it was only the extreme response which prevented
the advent of something more frightening.

The story of how cells were discovered is told in an accessible style, with enough to make them an interesting read.
The book then goes on to describe how humans have harnessed the abilities of cells, how microorganisms tackle pollution and, what
cells reveal about human behaviour.

Also discussed are emerging diseases, emphasising that disease causing microorganisms are maverick organisms, and are as likely
to harm themselves as much as their host: “The truly successful germ is one that coexists with its host species,
ausing little actual illness.”

Ford constantly falls down on the side of the microbe, and backs up his arguments with plenty of evidence. This can wear the
reader down as we are reminded again that microorganisms aren’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be. However, as
an educational tool, to someone who has limited microbiology knowledge, this book is wonderful.

From: Laboratory News [Biomedical News] pB1, April 1999

See also Scientist claims war is in our genes, 1999 .