Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Dr. Sharon Moalem

Ever wonder why your co-worker can walk around with a cold (and bring it to work) when diseases like cholera knock us flat? According to Dr. Sharon Moalem, the answer is found in how different microbes are transmitted: some need us to help them contact the next victim, others don’t. Better still, Moalem describes how certain diseases that our bodies generate today—including diabetes and sickle cell anemia—offered evolutionary advantages to our distant ancestors. Although the science may be overly simplified in some places—and it’s generally not as radical as the title suggests—most importantly, the discussion is easy to follow. Short chapters each capture a central idea, entertainingly explained. If basic science textbooks were written like this, fewer people would be scared away from science.