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New York Times Bestseller

New York Times Notable Book of 2016 • NPR Great Read of 2016 • Named a Best Book of 2016 by The Economist, Smithsonian, NPR's Science Friday, MPR, Minnesota Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, Times (London)

From Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong, 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. Pulitzer Prize-winning author 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.

Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Vanity Fair

One of Smithsonian's Ten Best Science Books of 2020

“A searching and vital explication of germ theory, social norms, and what the modern era is really doing to our bodies and our psyches.” —Vanity Fair


A preventative medicine physician and staff writer for The Atlantic explains the surprising and unintended effects of our hygiene practices in this informative and entertaining introduction to the new science of skin microbes and probiotics.

 
Keeping skin healthy is a booming industry, and yet it seems like almost no one agrees on what actually works. Confusing messages from health authorities and ineffective treatments have left many people desperate for reliable solutions. An enormous alternative industry is filling the void, selling products that are often of questionable safety and totally unknown effectiveness.

In Clean, doctor and journalist James Hamblin explores how we got here, examining the science and culture of how we care for our skin today. He talks to dermatologists, microbiologists, allergists, immunologists, aestheticians, bar-soap enthusiasts, venture capitalists, Amish people, theologians, and straight-up scam artists, trying to figure out what it really means to be clean. He even experiments with giving up showers entirely, and discovers that he is not alone.

Along the way, he realizes that most of our standards of cleanliness are less related to health than most people think. A major part of the picture has been missing: a little-known ecosystem known as the skin microbiome—the trillions of microbes that live on our skin and in our pores. These microbes are not dangerous; they’re more like an outer layer of skin that no one knew we had, and they influence everything from acne, eczema, and dry skin, to how we smell. The new goal of skin care will be to cultivate a healthy biome—and to embrace the meaning of “clean” in the natural sense. This can mean doing much less, saving time, money, energy, water, and plastic bottles in the process.

Lucid, accessible, and deeply researched, Clean explores the ongoing, radical change in the way we think about our skin, introducing readers to the emerging science that will be at the forefront of health and wellness conversations in coming years.
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize | A New York Times Editor's Choice

“[A] grounded, bracingly intelligent study” —Nature


Prizewinning science journalist Sonia Shah presents a startling examination of the pandemics that have ravaged humanity—and shows us how history can prepare us to confront the most serious acute global health emergency of our time.

Over the past fifty years, more than three hundred infectious diseases have either emerged or reemerged, appearing in places where they’ve never before been seen. Years before the sudden arrival of COVID-19, ninety percent of epidemiologists predicted that one of them would cause a deadly pandemic sometime in the next two generations. It might be Ebola, avian flu, a drug-resistant superbug, or something completely new, like the novel virus the world is confronting today. While it was impossible to predict the emergence of SARS-CoV-2—and it remains impossible to predict which pathogen will cause the next global outbreak—by unraveling the stories of pandemics past we can begin to better understand our own future, and to prepare for what it holds in store.

In Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, Sonia Shah interweaves history, original reportage, and personal narrative to explore the origins of epidemics, drawing parallels between cholera—one of history’s most deadly and disruptive pandemic-causing pathogens—and the new diseases that stalk humankind today. She tracks each stage of cholera’s dramatic journey, from its emergence in the South Asian hinterlands as a harmless microbe to its rapid dispersal across the nineteenth-century world, all the way to its latest beachhead in Haiti. Along the way she reports on the pathogens now following in cholera’s footsteps, from the MRSA bacterium that besieges her own family to the never-before-seen killers coming out of China’s wet markets, the surgical wards of New Delhi, and the suburban backyards of the East Coast.

Delving into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Pandemic is a work of epidemiological history like no other, with urgent lessons for our own time.

“Shah proves a disquieting Virgil, guiding us through the hells ruled by [infectious diseases] . . . the power of Shah's account lies in her ability to track simultaneously the multiple dimensions of the public-health crises we are facing.” —The Chicago Tribune
“Engrossing … [An] expedition through the hidden and sometimes horrifying microbial domain.” —Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating—and full of the kind of factoids you can't wait to share.” —Scientific American
 
Parasites can live only inside another animal and, as Kathleen McAuliffe reveals, these tiny organisms have many evolutionary motives for manipulating the behavior of their hosts. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to their influence. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness and impulsivity—even suicide. Germs that cause colds and the flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent.
 
Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. Drawing on a huge body of research, McAuliffe argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites. The horror and revulsion we are programmed to feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
 
“If you’ve ever doubted the power of microbes to shape society and offer us a grander view of life, read on and find yourself duly impressed.” —Heather Havrilesky, Bookforum 
An electrifying memoir of one woman's extraordinary effort to save her husband's life-and the discovery of a forgotten cure that has the potential to save millions more.
"A memoir that reads like a thriller." -New York Times Book Review"A fascinating and terrifying peek into the devastating outcomes of antibiotic misuse-and what happens when standard health care falls short." -Scientific AmericanEpidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. What at first seemed like a case of food poisoning quickly turned critical, and by the time Tom had been transferred via emergency medevac to the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, blood work revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.Frantic, Steffanie combed through research old and new and came across phage therapy: the idea that the right virus, aka "the perfect predator," can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, Steffanie appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help. She found allies at the FDA, researchers from Texas A&M, and a clandestine Navy biomedical center -- and together they resurrected a forgotten cure.A nail-biting medical mystery, The Perfect Predator is a story of love and survival against all odds, and the (re)discovery of a powerful new weapon in the global superbug crisis.
Now in paperback, evolutionary biologist and science writer Alanna Collen’s stunning alarm call concerning the widely-ignored role our gut microbes play in our health and well-being.

“Fascinating…. Everything you wanted to know about microbes but were afraid to ask.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony.

Until recently, we had thought our microbes hardly mattered, but science is revealing a different story, one in which microbes run our bodies and becoming a healthy human is impossible without them.

In this riveting, shocking, and beautifully written book, biologist Alanna Collen draws on the latest scientific research to show how our personal colony of microbes influences our weight, our immune system, our mental health, and even our choice of partner. She argues that so many of our modern diseases—obesity, autism, mental illness, digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmunity afflictions, and even cancer—have their root in our failure to cherish our most fundamental and enduring relationship: that with our personal colony of microbes.

The good news is that unlike our human cells, we can change our microbes for the better. Collen’s book is a revelatory and indispensable guide. Life—and your body—will never seem the same again.

 

From biology to economics to information theory, the theme of interdependence is in the air, framing our experiences of all sorts of everyday phenomena. Indeed, the network may be the ascendant metaphor of our time. Yet precisely because the language of interdependence has become so commonplace as to be almost banal, we miss some of its most surprising and far-reaching implications.

In Interdependence, biologist Kriti Sharma offers a compelling alternative to the popular view that interdependence simply means independent things interacting. Sharma systematically shows how interdependence entails the mutual constitution of one thing by another—how all things come into being only in a system of dependence on others.

In a step-by-step account filled with vivid examples, Sharma shows how a coherent view of interdependence can help make sense not only of a range of everyday experiences but also of the most basic functions of living cells. With particular attention to the fundamental biological problem of how cells pick up signals from their surroundings, Sharma shows that only an account which replaces the perspective of “individual cells interacting with external environments” with one centered in interdependent, recursive systems can adequately account for how life works.

This book will be of interest to biologists and philosophers, to theorists of science, of systems, and of cybernetics, and to anyone curious about how life works. Clear, concise, and insightful, Interdependence: Biology and Beyond explicitly offers a coherent and practical philosophy of interdependence and will help shape what interdependence comes to mean in the twenty-first century.
This highly anticipated update of the acclaimed textbook draws on the latest research to give students the knowledge and tools to explore the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens cause infections in humans and animals. Written in an approachable and engaging style, the book uses illustrative examples and thought-provoking exercises to inspire students with the potential excitement and fun of scientific discovery.

Completely revised and updated, and for the first time in stunning full-color, Bacterial Pathogenesis: A Molecular Approach, Fourth Edition, builds on the core principles and foundations of its predecessors while expanding into new concepts, key findings, and cutting-edge research, including new developments in the areas of the microbiome and CRISPR as well as the growing challenges of antimicrobial resistance. All-new detailed illustrations help students clearly understand important concepts and mechanisms of the complex interplay between bacterial pathogens and their hosts. Study questions at the end of each chapter challenge students to delve more deeply into the topics covered, and hone their skills in reading, interpreting, and analyzing data, as well as devising their own experiments. A detailed glossary defines and expands on key terms highlighted throughout the book. Written for advanced undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in microbiology, bacteriology, and pathogenesis, this text is a must-have for anyone looking for a greater understanding of virulence mechanisms across the breadth of bacterial pathogens.

The remarkable story of how an artist and a scientist in seventeenth-century Holland transformed the way we see the world.

On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek—a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher—gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld.

“See for yourself!” was the clarion call of the 1600s. Scientists peered at nature through microscopes and telescopes, making the discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry, and anatomy that ignited the Scientific Revolution. Artists investigated nature with lenses, mirrors, and camera obscuras, creating extraordinarily detailed paintings of flowers and insects, and scenes filled with realistic effects of light, shadow, and color. By extending the reach of sight the new optical instruments prompted the realization that there is more than meets the eye. But they also raised questions about how we see and what it means to see. In answering these questions, scientists and artists in Delft changed how we perceive the world.

In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.

Eye of the Beholder was named "A Best Art Book of the Year" by Christie's and "A Best Read of the Year" by New Scientist in 2015.

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