I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

by Ed Yong

Hardcover, 2016




Ecco, (2016)


This book lets us peer into the world of microbes -- not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives -- allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. --… (more)

Media reviews

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degrees in biology, and he is remarkably well informed; he includes descriptions of many studies that are still unpublished, and even a few original ideas for new experiments.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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member 2wonderY
Always interesting and occasionally elegant or laugh-out-loud funny. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member adzebill
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.
LibraryThing member chelseaknits
Lots of interesting facts but in such a big pile I stopped absorbing them after a while.

Kind of like a mat of bacteria...
LibraryThing member jhawn
The microbes within us and a grander view of life
LibraryThing member g33kgrrl
This is an excellent book. It does a great job of addressing a fast-evolving field and is honest about the limitations of our knowledge of the topic. I was very impressed. (I also really appreciated Yong's visit to Chicago at the end!)

For anyone else reading the kindle edition - there are some photos at the end of the book that weren't linked to anywhere else, so make sure you catch those.… (more)
LibraryThing member Gwendydd
This is a fascinating look at what we currently know about how animals and plants interact with the microbes all around us. This is still a very young field, and there is a lot to learn. Yong writes with clarity and humor, so this is a very enjoyable and enlightening read.
LibraryThing member addunn3
We are a world in ourselves. This is an amazing look at the world of life that keeps our bodies living.
LibraryThing member snash
A very readable summary of the most recent studies into the interactions of microbes with the rest of life illustrating their ubiquitous nature, often benefitting, sometimes harming.


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