Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin - a "microbe's-eye view" of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on Earth.
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light - less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.
Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us - the microbiome - build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
©2016 Ed Yong (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
"Narrator Charlie Anson brings out the dry humor in British science journalist Ed Yong's fascinating and accessible treatise on the world of microbes. Anson also does admirably pronouncing the many scientific names and words, and his smooth and lively delivery helps keep listeners from getting bogged down." (AudioFile)
Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek.
Yes, overweight people have different gut biomes than thin people. No, it's not so simple that bacteria causes obesity. If you feed your gut lots of junk food, bacteria that thrive on junk food will take over the gut.
A lot of enormous claims are made regularly in the media about our biomes. This book is necessary for better interpreting those claims.
And it comes with fascinating insights. Where does bacteria for processing pineapple come from? When we (or our ancestors) eat pineapple, the bacteria that hang out on it enters the gut and makes a home there. Of course. Bacteria often makes such a home in animals that it becomes domesticated and can no longer live anywhere else. Our bacteria might help us now, but they have no moral desire to do so: change the incentives and they can turn on us, and some pathogens actually kill by using our own bacteria against us. When we die, our bacteria eat us :*(
Most fascinating of all: bacteria not only exchange genes with each other, but sometimes with plants, sometimes with insects, and sometimes even with mammals. The kind of gene exchange we once thought only existed in artificial "genetic engineering" actually happens in nature, even with animals. Wow. I'd like to understand this process better.
Absolutely recommend this book.
The narrator is great, but you have to forgive him for some weird pronunciations. Pronouncing controversy as "conTRAvasy" should be illegal.
A great structure for listening in 30 minute intervals, as each chapter unfolds like its own magazine article. Yong has a clear style, he goes out of his way for fresh metaphors.
I am a microbiology major fresh out of college, and I personally really enjoued this book. i found it pretty digestable and good at explaining the basic tennants of bacteria and such before getting into the meat. If you are well versed in general microbiology, I'd reccomend getting past the build up-its a necessary evil for those not well versed in the topic and the actual meat of the book is really interesting. It was pretty neat to see current research I had even heard of in the book and everything was well put together-he even cautions that some of this science may not hold up in humans or may have inaccuracies to it, which is a very good idea in my mind given the volatility you can sometimes find in concepts or research later on. Highly reccomended.
The narrator does a good job keeping things flowing and entertaining, and I didn't notice any mispronunciation on his part in terms of science terms except rarely.
Ed Yong did such a great job personifying microbes that you will never eat anything without visualizing the billions that populate your gut. This book will introduce you to the future and reading it now will help you appreciate the flood of health stories that will doubtless be created at we learn more and more about what Mr. Yong introduces us to in this book. I love this book as a mystery fan, science nerd and citizen of this planet. Give this book to any budding scientist in your family and include a microscope to start him or her toward their Nobel.
My microbiome has become a character to me and I must call it my favorite among the billions in other people around the world. But then again, they change every second.
Having hear Ed Yong's British accent on a radio interview I appreciate a reader who also had an accent. He was a great reader to make the history of medical events much like telling a story.
I sure did. But I used my Amazon Echo to call on during the day when I could give the narrative the attention it deserves. Like any good mystery story you need to follow process. I even found myself taking notes just because I found the content so fascinating.
This book is important, enjoyable, educational, life saving, fascinating, well done, just a terrific read/listen for the past it talks about the future it portends. Great job Ed.
Yes! There is an emerging understanding of how microbiological systems can work to address some of the challenges of civilization. In a world that has declared war on the microscopic, I highly recommend this fairly approachable discussion of applied multitudes.
I enjoy the contrast between awareness and speculation, with clinical experiment. Although humanity has been studying our microscopic environment for several generations, it is starting to feel as though we're on the verge of a multitude of important, and in some case miraculous applications.
The discussion of coral reefs was especially enlightening. In this story, the impact of microbes is seen to be much more foundational for complex environments than I had previously understood.
No - not at all. I'm not especially familiar with microbes, and there are a number of varieties and rules (and exceptions) to sink in if I would have raced through the book.
There are starting to be a lot of different books on the microbiome. I enjoy the author's approach - he clearly distinguishes between speculation, correlation, and causation. The microbiome is getting a lot of hype, and this book acknowledges the hype and goes beyond into the facts, theories, and outlines information that still eludes the experts.
In the top 10%. Excellent science book with just the right amount of levity.
Adventures in the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach; A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. All three books exemplify some of the best science writing that seeks to engage the reader, but doesn't take itself too seriously (unless necessary).
This book acts as an incredibly interesting guide to and personable introduction of microbes and how they are interwoven and often indispensable to the lives of pretty much every complex living organism on earth. The book combines scientific discoveries with biographical sketches of some of the scientists working in the various fields covered. The author's tone remains curious, engaged, and light-hearted throughout - he is more than willing to recognize humorous facts and the obvious ick-factor that some of the information triggers. This book has all the fun of a Mary Roach book, but with a bit more focus and groundedness (Yong finds humor where it is, but doesn't force it). Readers with enough curiosity to overcome the discomfort of knowing you are populated with and covered by microbes (and so if most of the stuff you come in contact with) will benefit from a truly well-written science book.
This is an incredibly well written, easy to follow audio book. I feel like a curtain was lifted and I see the world in a different light
I'm a scientist with a professional interest (though by no means an expert) in microbes, and I found this book fascinating. It packed full of science and Yong does a great job explaining it and conveying the excitement of the field and the researchers behind it. The narration is generally very good. My only complaint is that regularly there are lines that were obviously re-recorded and hearing the small but obvious difference in the speech (I assume due to sound recording and processing) is distracting. I feel that a better production job could have avoided this.
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