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