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Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival…
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Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

by Jessica Snyder Sachs

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This book is a very well researched and well written guide to our hubris as a species. Sachs lays out how our war against microbes has turned out to be more damaging to us than it has been to the microbes that we were fighting. She then explains in detail how a growing cadre of scientists are learning how to work with microbes to prevent and cure disease, rather than trying to eradicate them.

There is probably a great allegory in the book about how it is better to use an enemy's strength against it and the implications of that in modern geopolitics. But I'm not going to go there, because this is a book about science, and science in the public interest. Its worth the read for that. Pay close attention to how irrational fear and cautiousness on the part of world governments have prevented or delayed potential cures for inflammatory bowel disorders, juvenile diabetes, and even tooth decay. ( )
  BrentN | Jan 1, 2011 |
Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World, by Jessica Snyder Sachs, is an exploration of humans' interactions with bacteria throughout time with an emphasis on modern history and developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, such as the widespread use of antibiotics in people and animals for both therapeutic and non-therapeutive, or preventative, measures.

The book's prologue begins with a narrative about Ricky Lannetti and his battle with antibiotic resistant MRSA, a particularly destructive strain of Staph. This narrative begins Sach's exploration of how humans and bacteria coexist and how this once symbiotic relationship of man and bug is transforming with the development of new antibiotics and evolving bacteria.

Sach explores stories of patients infected with bacteria, patients who use bacteria as part of a CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) treatment, doctors who developed and are developing new antibiotics, food companies exploring the use of probiotics in their products, and microbiologists who are discovering how bacteria evolve, share information, and develop antibiotic resistance.

Unlike many non-fiction science books, such as The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (James H. Silberman Books), Good Germs, Bad Germs is organized into seven distinct parts plus a very brief coda, rather than the standard chapters that readers have come to expect.

Sachs' book begins with a brief glossary of seven key terms used throughout the book. The glossary explains these sometimes complex parts of scientific jargon in laymen's terms.

Each of the seven parts in the main section of the book are well-organized and each part includes specific and well researched examples with copious supporting endnotes.

The glossary, coupled with Sachs' accessible writing and concise well titled sections within each part, makes her ideas available to readers of all levels and backgrounds. A specialized advanced degree in science isn't necessary to enjoy reading Good Germs, Bad Germs.

This book is recommended for anyone concerned with the proliferation of antibiotics in our bodies and in our food. Hopefully this book will allow patients to make better informed decisions regarding their use of broad spectrum antibiotics for common ailments and maladies.

Good Germs, Bad Germs is also recommended reading for high school and college students considering majors or careers in the biological sciences, specifically microbiology. ( )
  ReadThisNotThat | Nov 11, 2010 |
A popular presentation of where the War on Germs started, how it blossomed, why it's in trouble, and what recent research suggests should be about it. Bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics faster than new ones can be invented. This basic fact requires a re-think, research, and a re-imagining of the human body and the biosphere it inhabits.

The author writes this story for a popular but well-educated audience, using colorful language to anthropomorphize the behavior of bacteria, viruses, and the body's immune system. The reader unfamiliar with this material will never again think of bodily functions in quite the same way. Nevertheless, for someone not familiar with bacteria and their Latin names, as well as various terms from cell chemistry and microbiology, the cascade of terminology can be overwhelming. At times the author summarizes one piece of research after the other without guiding the reader as to where this mass of material is leading, and what theory it supports or disproves. The middle of the book goes quite slowly. Some further editing was needed. For example, there is puzzling repetition of material on Crohn's disease in parts 6 and 7 but no indication that the author realizes it. In the end, however, the author summarizes her themes well and extensively documents her main theses.

Sachs is excellent in her historical survey of the concept of the body and the source and cure of disease. Her narration of the divergence between the hygienists and the germ hunters from the 1800s on is both entertaining and fascinating. But she makes an outstanding case in asking us to see ourselves as biological creatures in co-evolution and co-dependence with bacteria of all kinds. We become seriously unhealthy in a germ-free environment. There is much to be re-thought as a result of reading this book. ( )
  Wheatland | May 10, 2009 |
Viruses and bacteria are ubiquitous in nature, and evolutionarily much older and much more successful than any other living matter we know of. We have evolved much later than they have, and with bits and pieces of them embedded in our DNA, after they have apparently induced some evolutionary changes in us, and colonies of them living inside our bodies and on the surface of it. Most of those bugs are beneficial to us and protect us from their virulent cousins. Yet, our obsession with sanitation and our overuse of antibiotics have swept away those harmless and beneficial bugs along with the disease-causing, inflammatory ones. The result appears to be a redirection of immune aggressiveness to the ‘imagined’ threats in allergens, and perhaps the body’s own healthy cells, and legions of antibiotic resistant superbugs.
Sachs discusses all this in her book and some of the new approaches of how to harness body’s own defenses, and use beneficial bugs to fight disease-causing ones intelligently so as not to produce more superbugs, or destroy our immune system on the way. Very interesting. ( )
  Niecierpek | Jan 4, 2009 |
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This book is dedicated to Ricky Lannetti (1982-2003)
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On the icy afternoon of December 6, 2003, Theresa Lannetti slipped into the home-team bleachers of Person Stadium, in the wooded college town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809050633, Hardcover)

Making Peace with Microbes
 
Public sanitation and antibiotic drugs have brought about historic increases in the human life span; they have also unintentionally produced new health crises by disrupting the intimate, age-old balance between humans and the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and our environment. As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among the gravest medical problems of modern times. Good Germs, Bad Germs addresses not only this issue but also what has become known as the "hygiene hypothesis"--  an argument that links the over-sanitation of modern life to now-epidemic increases in immune and other disorders. In telling the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs, Jessica Snyder Sachs explores our emerging understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and its resident microbes--which outnumber its human cells by a factor of nine to one! The book also offers a hopeful look into a future in which antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones--each custom-designed for maximum health benefits.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Public Sanitation and antibiotic drugs have brought about historic increases in the human life span; they have also unintentionally produced new health crises by disrupting the intimate, age-old balance between humans and the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and our environment. As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among the gravest medical problems of modern times. Good Germs, Bad Germs addresses not only this issue but also what has become known as the "hygiene hypothesis" - an argument that links the oversanitation of modern life to now-epidemic increases in immune and other disorders." "In telling the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs, Jessica Snyder Sachs explores our emerging understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and its resident microbes - which outnumber human cells by a factor of nine to one! The book also offers a hopeful look into a future in which antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones - each custom-designed for maximum health benefits."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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