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270 Barnes has digested a voluminous scientific literature and gives an orderly, well-written and comprehensive account of the topic. For a succession of types of infectious disease, she discusses origins and sources, genetic adaptations (of both microbe and human), microbial biology, population-health impacts, clinical features and, in some cases, control policies. The 23 chapters are approximately chronological, encompassing the parasites that first travelled with post-australopithecine hunter-gatherers, the revolution in human–microbial relations ushered in by farming and the consequent rise of various human-adapted infections (malaria, schistosomiasis, trypanosomiasis, tuberculosis, leprosy).

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