• The Angel and the Assassin

  • The Tiny Brain Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine
  • By: Donna Jackson Nakazawa
  • Narrated by: Melinda Wade
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (114 ratings)

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The Angel and the Assassin

By: Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Narrated by: Melinda Wade
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Publisher's summary

A thrilling story of scientific detective work and medical potential that illuminates the newly understood role of microglia - an elusive type of brain cell that is vitally relevant to our everyday lives.

"The rarest of books: a combination of page-turning discovery and remarkably readable science journalism." (Mark Hyman, MD, number one New York Times best-selling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?)

Named one of the best books of the year by Wired

Until recently, microglia were thought to be helpful but rather boring: housekeeper cells in the brain. But a recent groundbreaking discovery has revealed that they connect our physical and mental health in surprising ways. When triggered - and anything that stirs up the immune system in the body can activate microglia, including chronic stressors, trauma, and viral infections - they can contribute to memory problems, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Under the right circumstances, however, microglia can be coaxed back into being angelic healers, able to make brain repairs in ways that help alleviate symptoms and hold the promise to one day prevent disease.

With the compassion born of her own experience, award-winning journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa illuminates this newly understood science, following practitioners and patients on the front lines of treatments that help to “reboot” microglia. In at least one case, she witnesses a stunning recovery - and in others, significant relief from pressing symptoms, offering new hope to the tens of millions who suffer from mental, cognitive, and physical health issues.

Hailed as a “riveting”, “stunning”, and “visionary”, The Angel and the Assassin offers us a radically reconceived picture of human health and promises to change everything we thought we knew about how to heal ourselves.

©2020 Donna Jackson Nakazawa (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"A fascinating deep dive into the unsung heroes (and villains) inside our skulls.... Donna Jackson Nakazawa has a journalist’s eye for story, a scholar’s understanding of the research, and a patient’s appreciation for how high the stakes truly are." (Susannah Cahalan, New York Times best-selling author of Brain on Fire)

“In a stunning show of precision and heart, Jackson Nakazawa offers a captivating, page-turning story of scientific discoveries that overturn centuries of medical dogma and fundamentally reshape psychiatry, medicine, and the treatment of mental and physical illnesses. The Angel and the Assassin offers extraordinary promise and heralds hope in a time of skyrocketing rates of ‘microglial’ diseases - including depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and addiction. It is paradigm-shifting reading for us all!” (Christina Bethell, PhD, MPH, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative and professor at Johns Hopkins University)

“I can think of no topic more fascinating or exciting than microglia, the long-misunderstood brain cells whose power over brain health may hold the promise of cure for so many. The Angel and the Assassin is riveting, engaging, and visionary.” (Terry Wahls, MD, author of The Wahls Protocol)