In June 1999, a 33-year-old woman walked into a San Francisco hospital complaining of acute pain in her legs. The day before, she had what she thought was a flu: fever, dizziness and abdominal pain. Within two hours of her admission to hospital, she was dead, and unrecognisable. The diagnosis: flesh-eating bacteria. Bacteria are one of the most basic life forms on earth, yet they pose a threat to mankind that not even the most sophisticated scientific techniques can contain. The book charts the competition between the drug companies to develop a new super-antibiotic, and the race to save lives and make millions. It also describes the surprising return of a technique that predates penicillin - the development of a phage or virus that kills the bacteria from within.