The above image, from Arthur Allen’s latest book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, is one of the lice-feeders in Rudolf Weigl’s typhus-vaccine lab in Nazi-occupied Poland. Yes, those are matchboxes strapped to her leg and inside are body lice, which are gorging themselves on the woman’s blood. That’s just the one of the many bizarre, haunting intrigues in this tale of two scientists — besides Weigl, there’s immunologist/science philosopher Ludwik Fleck, whose own scientific odyssey traverses a harrowing parallel world to Weigl’s. (I think the lice-feeder shot would have been a great cover.) >Read review.
Ruth DeFries’ The Big Ratchet is a good primer for understanding “humanity’s remarkable journey from an ordinary mammal to a world-dominating, urban-dwelling species.” (And here I thought that title was held by NYC rats.) >Read review.
Finally, for a book that’s more uplifting (NPI), try The Thing with Feathers, Noah Stryker’s latest contribution to his ornithological oeuvre. >Read review.