I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
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,...more
Carol Anne Freeling was certainly right when she said, “They’re hee-ur,” well maybe not enraged spirits, but there are certainly plenty of entities present to which we have paid insufficient attention. Maybe Regan MacNeil was closer to the mark in proclaiming “We are legion.”
When Orson Welles said “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone,” he was mistaken. Even when we are alone, we are never alone. We exist in symbiosis—a wonderful term that refers to different organ...more
For my entire hospital career I have worked in oncology, where I have been part of teams taking care of people with cancer. Frequently patients have “neutropenic fevers,” a condition considered to be potentially harmful and almost always requiring admission to the hospital. Neutrophils are those brave little white blood cells that go out into our bodies and do battle with all the nasty things our bodies are exposed to every day. Neutropenia means the pati ...more
I also never really thought about the microbes that are constantly around us and even on me, or how many you are "seeding" to the world. That"every person aerosolises 37 million bac ...more
This book goes into detail about the amazing partnerships--the symbioses--between microbes and large organisms, mostly animals and humans. Microbes a ...more
Though we might lather our skin with antibacterial soap, clean our hands with alcohol sanitizers, gargle with mouthwash, scrub our kitchen surfaces, disinfect our bathrooms, spray Lysol all over the house, take antibiotics, etc., there are - and always will be - microbes everywhere. This is especially true of our warm moist bodies - which are covered inside and out with microorganisms....and this is a good thing.
In fact our bodies are really an indivisible aggregate of 'our' tissues and organs.. ...more
Upon hearing these things the question that comes to my mind is, why this new found enthusiasm for microorganisms? We've known about bacteria since Louis Pasteur. So why all this new information about microbes as if it was something new? (Actually we learn in this book that Antonie ...more
It is common knowledge today that everything and all of us are covered with microbes - that some are good and some are bad. Their number can be debated. We have in the past been fixated on getting rid of them. This has been to our detriment. It is clear we have gone too far. Antibiotics are good and necessary, but at the same time they must be used with care. In heedlessly wiping out microbes, we have created an environment where pathogens prolife ...more
This is absolutely fabulous scientific nonfiction. I think at times, scienctific nonfiction swings one of two ways--over simplified, or overly pendantic. This book truly hit the sweet spot. It's accessible, gorgeously written, and incredibly informative and well-researched.
In particular, I liked that Yong doesn't shy away from differing schools of thought. Microbiology as we know it today is still a relatively new science, and as such there are a LOT of ...more
4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.
Ed Yong's book is about microbes--bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and few other extremely small creatures--and how they live with other organisms--humans for the most part, with plenty of other animals, too, though no plants.
It has Darwinian ambitions, announced in its subtitle: "A Grander View of Life" evokes Darwin's famous phrase closing the first edition of "On the Origin of Species": "There is grandeur in thi ...more
Each one of us is a microbiome, with billions of bacteria literally on every bit of our skin and hair. Inside our bodies and in our cells, we have even more interesting little microscopic monsters. Plus, we share these little bugs with everyone we meet, especially the people we live with. If you have a dog, the volume of bacteria in your home increases exponentially.
If, gentle reader, you are now scratching and twitching, may I suggest getting a copy of 'I Contain Multitudes' ...more
Yong gives the feeling of being on a safari, observing exotic wildlife. He makes single-celled organisms as interesting as wildebeest and lions. We have come a long way in understanding this part of the ecosystem, and we have miles to go before we perfect that knowledge.
The microorganisms were here first. All of ...more
“'Each animal is an ecosystem with legs,' says John Rawls."
“As palaeontologist Andrew Knoll once said, 'Animals might be evolution's icing, but bacteria are really the cake.'"
Yep, Ed Yong knows how to salt and pepper his writing with some good quotes.
He also pens some wonderful great-for-quoting prose himself:
"It's estimated that every human contains 100 trillion microbes, most of which live in our guts. By compari ...more
Microbiom is a fascinating subject and he does a good job of giving background information, explaining the background work and giving interesting examples. So overall I enjoyed reading it.
The reason for only three stars: the books structure is not great. He talks about an issue and revisits it again and again. It is lacking the flow, and feels like he is visiting the same points over and over again. I assume ...more
We are just a vessel for them. They are the real dominant species on this planet. We live with them, we provide for them adn they work with us.
The examples given in this book are really interesting, but what really blows my mind is how we can now start using them to improve the way we live and improve our planet.
Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.
Like so many prejudices, those against microorganisms are stupid and shortsighted. The first associations are not symbiosis and better health but infection and disease. The negative image is over-represented. Hygiene and health are essential, but the benefits of invisible companions are far too rarely highlighted. The ...more
In the classic evolutionary/ biological view, it’s “us” against “the world.” Life is a struggle, red in tooth and claw. While that is true, it ignores that adaptive succe ...more
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