In What's Eating You? Eugene Kaplan recounts the true and harrowing tales of his adventures with parasites, and in the process introduces readers to the intimately interwoven lives of host and parasite.
Kaplan has spent his life traveling the globe exploring oceans and jungles, and incidentally acquiring parasites in his gut. Here, he leads readers on an unforgettable journey into the bizarre yet oddly beautiful world of parasites. In a narrative that is by turns frightening, disgusting, and laugh-out-loud funny, Kaplan describes how drinking contaminated water can cause a three-foot-long worm to burst from your arm; how he "gave birth" to a parasite the size and thickness of a pencil while working in Israel; why you should never wave a dead snake in front of your privates; and why fleas are attracted to his wife. Kaplan tells stories about leeches feasting on soldiers in Vietnam; sea cucumbers with teeth in their anuses that seem to encourage the entry of symbiotic fish; the habits of parasites that cause dysentery, river blindness, and other horrifying diseases--and much, much more. Along the way, he explains the underlying science, including parasite evolution and host-parasite physiology.
Informative, frequently lurid, and hugely entertaining, this beautifully illustrated book is a must-read for health-conscious travelers, and anyone who has ever wondered if they picked up a tapeworm from that last sushi dinner.
"Dip into Kaplan for a rich dose of disgust."--Anne Hardy, Times Literary Supplement
"Engrossingly gross: A paean to parasites . . . Kaplan is a master raconteur. What's more, he has an almost comical knack of contracting every parasitic infection going, which serves to bring his stories to life all the more vividly. This is gonzo parasitology writing at its finest."--Clint Witchalls, New Scientist
"[What's Eating You?] takes the prize for most eww-inducing book title of the week. Ever want to know about hirudin, the anticoagulant in leech saliva? This is the book for you."--San Francisco Chronicle
"[This] book has its squirmy pleasures. . . . [Kaplan's] approach is often lurid, sometimes humorous vignettes on different parasites, each story culminating in a page of scientific drawings that illustrate the intersecting paths of parasites and hosts."--Nina Ayoub, Chronicle Review
"[Kaplan] simply conveys a vast amount of information painlessly. . . . He has a lively sense of story."--Michael Sims, Washington Post
"You can't go wrong with a book about the disgusting, utterly gross organisms that set up shop in and on the human body. Think tapeworms, flukes and leeches. Seriously high yuck factor. Still, these alien invaders are so bizarre they're fascinating. In his riveting, if often revolting, book Eugene H. Kaplan regales with tales from his life as a parasite taxonomist. . . . Lurid and charming in equal measure."--Leigh Dayton, The Australian
"In two decades I have not had the pleasure of appraising such a repulsive volume as What's Eating You? I heartily commend it. . . . The thirty chapters of Professor Eugene H. Kaplan's study all read like punchy little fables about different aspects of parasitology."--David Profumo, Literary Review
Table of Contents
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