To this reviewer, as one who has observed viruses primarily as human pathogens, the monograph by Levy, Fraenkel-Conrat, and Owens is a stimulating and broadening experience. The authors attempt to cover all of virology, emphasizing that all living species have viruses associated with them.
They point out that viruses can be classified into one of eight large groups, primarily based on whether they have DNA or RNA genomes coupled with their characteristics of replication. One thus sees a huge world of viral infections that show many common features despite the diversity of their hosts. The text also provides information on virus structure and replication, emphasizing biochemical properties. There is an excellent, large glossary of technical terms, which is very helpful to understanding the concise text.
The book is essentially an annotated taxonomy of viruses, which is both challenging and intimidating. The similarities in structure and replication among viruses that affect