I Contain Multitudes

  • by Ed Yong
  • Narrated by Charlie Anson
  • 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Narrator Charlie Anson brings out the dry humor in British science journalist Ed Yong's fascinating and accessible treatise on the world of microbes. Anson also does admirably pronouncing the many scientific names and words, and his smooth and lively delivery helps keep listeners from getting bogged down." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Undoes what you've learned from the headlines

Yes, overweight people have different gut biomes than thin people. No, it's not so simple that bacteria causes obesity. If you feed your gut lots of junk food, bacteria that thrive on junk food will take over the gut.

A lot of enormous claims are made regularly in the media about our biomes. This book is necessary for better interpreting those claims.

And it comes with fascinating insights. Where does bacteria for processing pineapple come from? When we (or our ancestors) eat pineapple, the bacteria that hang out on it enters the gut and makes a home there. Of course. Bacteria often makes such a home in animals that it becomes domesticated and can no longer live anywhere else. Our bacteria might help us now, but they have no moral desire to do so: change the incentives and they can turn on us, and some pathogens actually kill by using our own bacteria against us. When we die, our bacteria eat us :*(

Most fascinating of all: bacteria not only exchange genes with each other, but sometimes with plants, sometimes with insects, and sometimes even with mammals. The kind of gene exchange we once thought only existed in artificial "genetic engineering" actually happens in nature, even with animals. Wow. I'd like to understand this process better.

Absolutely recommend this book.

The narrator is great, but you have to forgive him for some weird pronunciations. Pronouncing controversy as "conTRAvasy" should be illegal.
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- Tristan

A good current look at the microbiome

I am a microbiology major fresh out of college, and I personally really enjoued this book. i found it pretty digestable and good at explaining the basic tennants of bacteria and such before getting into the meat. If you are well versed in general microbiology, I'd reccomend getting past the build up-its a necessary evil for those not well versed in the topic and the actual meat of the book is really interesting. It was pretty neat to see current research I had even heard of in the book and everything was well put together-he even cautions that some of this science may not hold up in humans or may have inaccuracies to it, which is a very good idea in my mind given the volatility you can sometimes find in concepts or research later on. Highly reccomended.

The narrator does a good job keeping things flowing and entertaining, and I didn't notice any mispronunciation on his part in terms of science terms except rarely.
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- Colin Mc

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-09-2016
  • Publisher: HarperAudio