News flash: A fabulous new book about microbial life (which, it turns out, is all life) hit the shelves yesterday.
Ed Yong is an outstanding writer whose elegant, witty prose describes a revolution in biology. Our new understanding of microbes upends much of what we thought we knew about medicine, conservation, ecology, and many other fields. I Contain Multitudes takes us into the labs and the field sites where this revolution is unfolding. Ed not only delivers a book full of incredibly important ideas, he lets us inhabit the processes that gave rise to these ideas. Including the correct way to obtain an anal swab from a dangerous animal.
If you have a strong intellectual immune system — one that is skeptical of the overblown claims that sometimes spill from scientific discoveries — Ed is a great guide. He’s clear-headed about both big ideas and bad ideas. His is a refreshing rigor in a time of journalistic bombast.
And, if you’re looking to see the world with new eyes, sloughing away the tropes, voice, and stale hypotheses of textbooks, you’ll love this book. The Atlantic, where Ed works as a science writer, has a timely excerpt about the microbial dimension of Zika and mosquitoes.
I strongly recommend doing yourself a favor and getting your hands on a copy. And by “your hands” I mean the dozens of species that comprise the communal entity formerly known as your “self.”