Oxford University Press
For those of you not acquainted with this excellent series-A very Short Introduction, let me explain. They are small paperbacks (about the size of an outstretched hand) that could easily slip into a handbag or a small documents case. This particular book has 142 pages, and other books I have seen in the series have similar dimensions. These books are factual and allows you to read around a topic and learn from an authoritative and reliable source. I like popular science books and articles and have owned and read a number in the series. They are always a fascinating read and incredibly there are over 700 (yes you have read that right) titles in the series https://global.oup.com/academic/content/series/v/very-short-introductions-vsi/?cc=gb&lang=en& covering an amazing number of subjects from arts to science to politics and culture. For example, recently published there is a very short introduction to British Cinema. I am sure there will be a title that will fascinate most readers and it does not have to be academic title.
Like many others in this series (which started in 1995) Viruses, A very short introduction can be read on a long trip plane or train trip or can be read at leisure within a few days or weeks and they are a pleasure to read. This version is no different, it is a great and readable review and for most medics this will be a most useful and interesting read. Equally a layperson will find this a fascinating read and give substance to the topic.
The publication date of this book is important (22nd October 2022) since this postdates the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and although we are not out of the woods yet, at least in the UK we are through the restrictions of lockdown. Of course, this world changing event has stimulated a huge interest in viruses and so this book is well placed to provide high quality information. Chapter 5 is devoted to the Coronaviruses but of course, there is much more to cover and within 150 pages, it is full of information. The author Dorothy Crawford OBE is an Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology at Edinburgh University and has produced, a great book in the traditions of the Very Short Introduction series. Many medics will fill in gaps in their knowledge whilst the lay person will enjoy the panoramic view provided by the book.
Of course, there is more to Viruses than just covid-19 and this book provides a really good and informative read about the nature of viruses, persistent viruses and tumour viruses as well as much more. The quality of the text is such that it will appeal to a lay person wanting to learn more whilst clinical staff such as pharmacists, nurses and doctors will also enhance their knowledge and understanding of the subject. I think for everyone it will fill in some gaps of knowledge in an enjoyable and educational way.
The book is keenly priced, and I think great value for money and like others in the series, it is concise enough to read in its entirety in a relatively short period of time. This means that the book has to capture the interest and imagination of the reader and I think that this book succeeds on both of these counts.
Dr Harry Brown
6th January 2023