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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us…
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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (2016)

by Ed Yong

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As a biologist who studies multicellular organisms, and avoided microbiology wherever possible, this is something of a revelation. Yong makes a good case for treating individuals as walking communities or ecosystems; evolutionary biology and medicine need to keep this in mind. ( )
  adzebill | Jan 18, 2017 |
A mind-bending and gut-wrenching up-to-the-minute account of how microbes -- mainly bacteria -- influence every aspect of the lives of us multi-celled animals. ( )
  pheinrich | Nov 25, 2016 |
I am generally more fascinated by books about physics than biology, but Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Is and a Grander View of Life sounded fascinating, so I decided to give it a shot. It lived up to my expectations and beyond. I also think I have found the perfect insult inside its pages. There’s a critter called Osedax mucofloris, the gutless bone-eating snot-flower worm that feasts on dead whales that sink to the ocean floor. I am trying to memorize that, take that you gutless, bone-eating snot-flower worm!

I Contain Multitudes takes us into the microbial world and it’s a miraculous world. There were sections that were so astonishing I had to read them again because my mind was so blown I was not certain I read it right. I found myself sharing food parts with my best friend, a college science instructor. I of course had to call her about the gutless, bone-eating snot-flower worm.

I was interested in learning more about microbes because I am concerned that we have gone overboard in our mania for ridding ourselves and our environment of bacteria. I learned how painful that can be when I developed c. diff after a hospital stay, the antibiotics I took while recovering killed off lots of good bacteria in my personal microbiome, making way for the rapid growth of c. diff, an omnipresent jerk that is usual kept in balance by the good bacteria that my antibiotics had just killed off. I was able to recover without the fecal transplant that is discussed toward the end of the book, but the potential for improving our health through rePOPulation remains intriguing and hopeful.

Learning about microbes involves a bit of unlearning because these critters are amazing. Their symbiotic relationships they develop with hosts and with each other can be incredibly complex. Did you know there are worms with no mouths, no stomachs and not anuses because they don’t eat, they are nourished solely by bacteria through chemosynthesis. Did you know that bacteria can swap genes with each other enabling a kind of hyper-evolution. It’s still evolution as it passes through inheritance, but it’s fast. I could go on forever with the amazing facts and discoveries and research that is going on, but the best thing is for you to just read this book.

I loved I Contain Multitudes. I am impressed with Yong’s ability to explain the science and the research so this lay-reader could easily understand new concepts and where they fit into our understanding of the world. Biology is not my strong suit, I can never remember which is meiosis and which is mitosis. Nonetheless, even though I skipped high school biology, I was able to easily understand the book.

Long writes with wonder and excitement, and you can feel his enthusiasm on every page. He also writes with humor and wit, from silly puns to bits of gossip and insider stories. He expresses the bemusement and astonishment of scientists who are surprised by the wonderful ingenuity and flexibility of microbes.

This is also an important book. There are solutions here for medicine, which is obvious, but also for things like building for flooding with microbes that combat and prevent mold. A project that is working to fight Dengue Fever could also fight the Zika virus and malaria. Important, informative, and entertaining, what more can you ask?

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Is and a Grander View of Life at Harper Collins Publishers
Ed Yong Web Site

★★★★★
http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/i-contain-multitudes/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Oct 4, 2016 |
"I Contain Multitudes" is a deft combination of contagious curiosity and even-handed treatment of Mr. Yong's subjects: microbes. This book is certainly packed to the brim full of interesting facts and anecdotes, but the author is always very careful to show the other side of the coin and not get too carried away with speculation. His writing style is also casual but never too lax: you always feel as if you're getting the complete picture. To be sure, this is a subject that will garner only further interest in the years to come and Mr. Yong has set a high bar in a book both informative and filled with integrity. ( )
1 vote ZambeziJql | Sep 9, 2016 |
Showing 4 of 4
Ed Yong is a talented British science writer, a staff writer for The Atlantic and the author of a wonderful blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science, hosted by National Geographic. “I Contain Multitudes,” his first book, covers a huge amount of microscopic territory in clear, strong, often epigrammatic prose. Yong has advanced degrees in biology, and he is remarkably well informed; he includes descriptions of many studies that are still unpublished, and even a few original ideas for new experiments. He is infectiously enthusiastic about microbes, and he describes them with verve.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062368591, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 05 Jun 2016 14:21:18 -0400)

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