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How the Immune System Works 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0632044139
ISBN-10: 0632044136
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I feel that Dr Sompayrac has contributed a worthy book which I personally have enjoyed reading, and I feel it will serve as an ideal introduction to the principles of immunology for students of either a medical or scientific background."

Southampton Health Journal

"...makes a difficult subject like immunology much easier to understand. A fantastic introduction to basic immunology."

2nd Opinion, The Magazine of the Scottish Medical Schools

"...it covers each section of the immune system in the form of 'lectures' in which the author talks to you from the book as though he were in the same room.

A MUST-BUY for anyone having problems understanding the immune system (and, lets face it, who doesn't)?"

Barts and the London Chronicle

"...this brief overview of immunology is superb."

Guy's Gazette, Guy's Hospital, Medical & Dental Schools

From the Back Cover

How the Immune System Works is an irriverent, entertaining way to learn
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0632044136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0632044139
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist and I bought the book to help me to solidify my knowledge of basic immunology.
Since the American Board of Allergy and Immunology only issues 10-year certification --and I took the exam the first time in 1991 -- I have to take a multiple choice recert exam soon. The book is helping me prepare by reviewing current basic Immunology in a very easy to understand (and therefore easy to REMEMBER) fashion.
The prose is not prosaic, it's fun! The writing describes the immune system's structure and functioning clearly and logically. It does an excellent job of tying everything together, which can be difficult with the expanding "octopus" of detail that comprises modern immunology.
I highly recommend this for physicians and students of medicine or immunology.
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Format: Paperback
After slogging through Janeway's _Immunobiology_ and most of a course in immunology, I had memorized a lot of facts but still understood next to nothing about the overall "design" and operation of the immune system. I found _How the Immune System Works_ the perfect antidote to my existential ennui. I recommend it highly and wish there were similar books on other related subjects.

The main pleasure of this book is that it's very "why-oriented" - Sompayrac explains how each mechanism fits into the grand scheme of immunology. Another key innovation is that he points out areas of immunology that aren't well understood yet; that way, you can recognize them as gaps in the science at large rather than as gaps in your own understanding.

Other virtues include brevity, judicious omission of irrelevant detail (this book omits the customary table of 30-odd cytokines along with a list of the 10 or 15 actions of each, for example), and an engaging and readable style.

2006 UPDATE (ORIGINAL REVIEW WAS MAY, 2002): I'm so glad to see this book continuing to get great reviews. Having completed the rest of medical school, I can now say that this is the single highest-value text I encountered on any medical subject.
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The immune system is distributed throughout the body, but can still usefully be viewed as singular. The body is always under threat from tiny invaders, and it is only the various parts of our immune system, working together, that makes it possible for us to repel them. Without it, we would be dead very quickly.
This book gives a good overview of the immune system, with enough detail to understand how the various cells and tissues do what they do. How does the system recognize invaders? How does it recognize self, and leave self alone? Why is foreign tissue rejected? How can the system go wrong? What is the role of the Major Histocompatibility Complex? How do we get immunity? The mechanisms cells use are molecular�protein, mostly�and the immune system is all about protein switches, detectors, and processors. The above questions and others are answered by invoking the protein mechanisms, and explaining how the cells of the immune system can do the magic that they do in recognizing and responding appropriately to the millions of different possible invaders, and why some parts of the system take longer than others to swing into action.
The only background you really need for this book is an intelligent layman�s interest in science. You should know what proteins are (chains of amino acids), more-or-less how DNA and RNA work, and the ability to follow a technical discussion. The book was written for medical students, but knowledge of anatomy and physiology is not put to use here. The discussion is chatty, informal, and repetitive. Each of the first several chapters ends in a summary diagram of the system interactions that have been discussed up to that point, and each next chapter begins by giving an extensive review of the previous one.
In spite of this, the exposition is confusing.
Read more ›
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As a nonmedical person, I sought out this book to give me an overview of the workings of the immune system. I found the text approachable and engrossing. The explanations were very clear, and appropriate repetition solidified the concepts in my mind.
In fact, this book painted such a vivid picture of the immune system's workings that I would dream about B cells and macrophages the night after studying the text.
My thanks to the author for a wonderful experience!
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Before I read this book, I didn't know the difference between an antibody and a complement protein. This book is written in a clear and easy-to-read style that makes it hard to put down! In a day and a half, I was able to read the entire book and had an excellent grasp of immunology.
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I took my immunology courses in college too many years ago for me to contemplate.
Needing an updated refresher on the immune system, I picked up this book after reading reader's reactions to the book here.
I found this book to be excellent. I have a good undergraduate background in biology, but this book is written in such a clear, forthright manner that anyone with an interest in the subject would have no problem understanding the concepts outlined here.
The book may be short, but it is dense; there are no throwaway sentences or paragraphs here. Yet the book is written in a clear, sensible manner.
I recommend it.
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