Science writer Sachs (Corpse) makes a strong case for a new paradigm for dealing with the microbial life that teems around and within us. Taking both evolutionary and ecological approaches, she explains why antibiotics work so well but are now losing their effectiveness. She notes that between agricultural antibiotic usage and needless prescriptions written for human use, antibiotic resistance has reached terrifying levels. A decade ago, resistant infections acquired in hospitals were killing an estimated eighty-eight thousand Americans each year... more than car accidents and homicides combined. Our attempts to destroy microorganisms regularly upset useful microbial communities, often leading to serious medical consequences. Sachs also presents evidence suggesting that an epidemiclike rise in autoimmune diseases and allergies may be attributable to our misguided frontal assault on the bacterial world. The solution proposed is to encourage the growth of healthy, displacement-resistant microbial ecological communities and promote research that disrupts microbial processes rather than simply attempting to kill the germs themselves. Despite the frightening death toll, Sachs's summary of promising new avenues of research offers hope. (Oct. 16)
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"Jessica Snyder Sachs successfully weaves story–telling, history, microbiology and evolution into an exciting account of the two aspects of microbes for humankind—the good and the bad. Through direct interviews and other primary sources, she provides the reader with up-to-date reporting in the areas of drug resistance, infection and new therapeutics. The book is a wonderful read." —Stuart B. Levy, M.D., author of The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys their Curative Powers
"Jessica Snyder Sachs has a vital message about our future health: we have to get to know our microbes better. They are not simple germs to be wiped out with a magic drug, but complicated creatures whose existence is intimately intertwined with our own. In Good Germs, Bad Germs, Sachs delivers one of the best accounts of the cutting edge of microbiology I've read in recent years." —Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
"If germs had hands you’d want to shake them—at least to thank them for the good work they do. That counterintuitive truth is just one of many in Jessica Snyder Sachs’s Good Germs, Bad Germs, an alternately illuminating, fascinating and even amusing look into the curious world of microbes and how our very struggle to keep ourselves safe from them has put us in danger we never imagined. Sachs displays a rare gift for shining light into places you thought you’d never want to explore and then making you glad you had the courage to peek. This is splendid writing." —Jeffrey Kluger, Science Editor, Time, and author of SPLENDID SOLUTION: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio
"Good Germs, Bad Germs is incredibly well researched and contains a wealth of fascinating information. It is completely up to date, integrating science and health with the newest ideas on how microbes beneficially affect and even protect humans from disease."—Dale Umetsu, professor of immunology, Harvard Medical School
"Jessica Snyder Sachs’s Good Germs Bad Germs is an outstanding introduction to a complex scientific topic, presented in extremely clear and vivid language. Her approach outlines not only the deleterious effects of microbes, with which we are all too familiar, but also the beneficial side to this vast array of organisms, without which human life would be impossible. The book is a must read for anyone who wants to get 'the big picture' of the microbial world." —Garland E. Allen, professor of biology, Washington University
"The amazing thing about this book is that it unites in a remarkable way the particular—otherwise known as everyday life—with the sweepingly general—the historical perspective. It is educational, amusing, thought–provoking, and quirky by turns. It brings to life not only the individual scientists who shaped the modern era of microbiology but also the equally important lives of modern parents with critically ill children. I wish I had written this book." —Abigail Salyers, professor of microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and co-author of Revenge Of The Microbes: How Bacterial Resistance Is Undermining The Antibiotic Miracle