Book Review: Bacteria The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Not exactly a microscopy text but inspiration for breaking out the immersion oil certainly. -K

Written by Trudy M. Wassenaar, Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful something of a rarity in the continuum of microbiological texts; a work for public consumption. To understand the book, and more importantly enjoy it, one doesn’t need a scientific background or any sort of prior knowledge. It’s not even necessary for the reader to have a prior interest in bacteria, the book will surely engender one.

Pleasantly illustrated throughout, the book progresses in a natural way from one topic to the next. Topics as diverse as bacterial toxins, marine microbiology, and antibiotic resistance are all covered. So much more is covered as well, from technical subjects such as Type Three Secretion Systems and taxonomy to crowd pleasers like bacteria in art or the bacterial record holders. One is sure to be impressed by the shear volume of information packed into under 200 pages.

Written by a professional it is gratifyingly accurate and free of tedious in-line citations which the casual reader is sure to appreciate. Instead all relevant references are provided in the rear of the text. Most readers will quickly note occasionally unwieldy sentences. No doubt an artifact of either translation or the authors native language they do not render difficult the reading.

Available from all the usual places, I recommend the purchase. Seeing as it is published by Wiley anyone with a membership in the Royal Microscopical Society can make good use of the discount Wiley provides to members.

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