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At War Within: The Double-Edged Sword of Immunity Hardcover – November 30, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0195092868 ISBN-10: 0195092864 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Today the news informs us that our collective health is under attack. Tuberculosis is on the resurgence, AIDS continues its onslaught, and allergies plague many people. Clark, who teaches immunology at UCLA, unites these subjects and others in a lucid discussion of our body's immune system. Devoting each chapter to a unique malady or condition, he provides the details needed to understand our immune structure, particularly when it unravels and turns on itself. These details do not overwhelm the general reader's grasp of the topic; instead they support it. Clark's presentation is straightforward, arranged well, and includes historical background. Highly recommended for all collections.?Michael David Cramer, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. Libs., Blacksburg
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The immune system is a lifesaver, but it can overkill--that is, attack its possessor's friends as well as its enemies. Clark explains this highly technical subject clearly; nevertheless, readers will have to actively cogitate as they read. The brain and the immune system are the only parts of the body that have memory, and the immune system's can become confused if the signals it receives are unclear or if it misinterprets them. In such situations, autoimmune diseases occur, also the assaults on the body related to AIDS as well as to other infections. The immune system is basically bipartite, consisting of B cells and antibodies on the one hand, of T cells and lymphokines on the other; as knowledge of these two systems has grown, theories about them have changed accordingly. Although microbial pathogens can mutate incredibly quickly, immunologic diversity enables speedy response to virtually any form of attacker. Clark sees communication between the brain and the immune system as the most fascinating aspect of the complex, vitally important part of our being that the immune system is. William Beatty
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195092864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195092868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,991,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Earl Dennis on June 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Most neurosurgeons and astrophysicists are busy constructing the future. Some of these overacheivers suffer from a mild mental disorder called hypergraphia and compulsively write stuff down. Fortunately Dr. William Clark suffers from hypergraphia and we benefit hugely because we can look into his mind by reading his books, and what a view it is. This book is essentially about mammalian immunology. Immunology is an odd subject to get because its quite dynamic, meaning its operation is determined by a wide array of parts. Clark's book is short, sweet and to the point. He covers the basics and proceeds with case studies that bring the lay reader close to his profession without having to spend years in postdoc research doing so. His opening account of the rancerous competition between France's Louis Pasteur and Germany's Robert Koch is fantastic reading for the bonified dork. Most interestingly, Clark primes us with some genetic engineering technique in his marvelous description of SCID, severe combined immune deficiency, and its concomitant 'magic bullet' cure based on the gene therapy associated with a monogenetic disorder; interesting stuff here. His coverage of autoimmune disorders alone makes this brief, action packed essay worth the price. Clark makes the mind numbing world of immunology a little bit friendlier here.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By wry and mighty on December 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Clark's description of the war being waged within all of us demarcates the front lines: where our immune system (however functional or dysfunctional it may be) must constantly react to foreign microorganisms and our own cells. Not only does Clark discuss congenital immune diseases that leave some of us in various states of vulnerability, he also goes into detail about allergies, asthma, TB, viral hepatitis B, and other diseases in which the immune system wreaks havoc in the body, causing more damage than the intruding antigens.

Prior to his description of the war within, he provides a brief history of vaccination and an overview of the immune system's anatomy. The second half of the book contains chapters on the devastation of AIDS, the ethical dilemmas surrounding immunosuppresants and organ transplantation, and an insightful description of the electrochemical dialogue between the brain and immune system. The final chapter of the book explains how immunological thought developed during the 20th century, culminating in Burnet's clonal selection theory - which explains how we can protect ourselves (usually) against a seemingly infinite universe of pathogens without destroying our own bodies (usually). Great read, great book!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book if you want to begin to know how your body and immune system work. From colds to cancer, It simplified and helped me to know how to begin the course of a natural cure. It put years of study about disease in real focus.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brett Williams on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clark's "Sex & The Origins Of Death" is one of the most remarkable books ever written, cover-to-cover an exhilarating revelation. So with great anticipation for "War Within" it was a sad surprise to find it become a bedtime sedative. Clark's masterly command of vivid painting with words disappears almost entirely after chapter two and appears only sparsely before that. Of course it is not without several gems: "Like an army lashing out blindly against an unseen and unmeasured enemy, the immune system is capable of using excessive deadly force in the wrong place and time..." And this is the core subject of Clark's book, how our marvelous life-saving immune system can turn on us with deadly effect. (If there were an intelligent designer, this fact scarcely says anything positive for the designer's intelligence.) Reminding us of chronic human foolishness we find there was resistance to immunization because disease was one of God's means for punishment of the wicked - applying equally to autoimmune disease in infants whose transgression would be...? The bizarre ability of T-cells to command other cells to commit suicide is touched upon, but a more in-depth coverage of this fascinating "programmed cell death" awaits his text noted above - which was written 3 years later, so Clark improves immensely in short order. Incidentally, Clark notes that each human consumes about 30 tons of food in a lifetime (in his section on food allergies). Given almost 7 billion humans that's over 200 billion tons of food consumed by humans every 70 years or so - no wonder we're eating species into extinction. Mostly a rather dry history of immunology, perhaps it's of greater interest to the practitioner than the general reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on August 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was one of those books I purchased quite a while ago when I was in an HIV lab and I put it aside, and never quite got around to reading it. In the midst of a summer heatwave where I didn't want to go out to the library, and was browsing for something I hadn't read, I got back to this book. And...what a book it is!!! Immunology can be one of the most mind-boggling difficult things to understand, yet Clark, who is obviously at the forefront of this area of medicine, really knows how to make this information accessible to even the least scientifically-minded laymen.

I actually pick up the book and was looking at something specific in the middle of the book. I couldn't put it down again til I read the rest of the book and then went back and read the first part of the book. It still made sense, and that's not easy to do coming into a science like this. This book should be required reading for all those in immunology or any of the side fields that end up using antibodies in their work, like we did to determine what type of growth factors were being churned out by the introduction of HIV to nerve and astrocytes. It makes the work much more understandable and interesting to those doing the technical work. It would be great if they could get Clark to update the book if he is around, with what new information has been discovered over the last few years in this field.

This is also a must-read for anyone interested for self or family members undergoing autoimmune problems, as it explains why the body would turn around and attack itself. Since so many diseases are being determined to have an autoimmune part (as well as a trigger from a virus or bacteria) this becomes essential reading.

Earl Dennis' review of this book is also a must-read, as I agree with everything he says and he says it so humorously!

Karen SAdler
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