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Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691028736
ISBN-10: 0691028737
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Oh, to be young and eligible to enroll in Professor George Hudler's "Plant Pathology 101" class at Cornell! For those of us who aren't, this book is the next best thing--a hugely entertaining introduction to spore lore. Not only does he bring us up to speed on the fungus science, he relates the amazing impact of his branch of science on human history. The Eleusinian Mysteries that so inspired Plato and Sophocles were probably caused by ergot, which Tim Leary and the CIA put to scarier use in its refined form, LSD. Other fungal products are more upbeat: penicillin (Hudler tells a good story about British scientists who put its spores on their clothes in 1940, to preserve their research in case Germany invaded), cyclosporins, which permit such organ recipients as David Crosby not to reject their healthy new livers, and Beano, a derivative of alpha-d-galactosidase that suppresses flatulence in humans. Want to commit the perfect murder? Try aflatoxin, as a Graham Greene character does in The Human Factor. Do you dare to recreate the hallucinations of the Salem witches? Ergot's just the thing, as characters discover to their misfortune in Robin Cook's thriller Acceptable Risk. Hudler packs plenty of intriguing stories into a brief, readable book: exploding artillery fungus, spores spread by earthquakes that can cause anorexia, a 35-acre spread of 1,500-year-old identical mushrooms in Michigan that may be the oldest, biggest living thing on Earth. No question about it--Dr. Hudler is one fun guy. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

While most people might not think mushrooms and molds to be fascinating creatures, Hudler, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, does a remarkable job proving them wrong. In this thoroughly entertaining book, he demonstrates that fungi are much more than slimy, disgusting, disease-causing organisms; in fact, they have dramatically influenced the course of human history. With chapters on yeasts used to make bread and to brew alcoholic beverages, on the medicinal uses of fungi from penicillin to possible treatments for AIDS, on edible mushrooms like the common button mushroom and the more exotic truffle, and on hallucinogenic mushrooms, Hudler takes readers on an enthralling and informative tour of this much maligned kingdom. Fungi do have a downside and Hudler doesn't gloss over their ill effects, discussing the havoc arising from the failure of the Irish potato crop (caused by Phytophthora infestans) and the misery and starvation attributable to ergot (Claviceps purpurea) contamination of grains, including, likely, the events associated with the Salem witch trials. He also covers a host of fungi-involved human diseases, from athlete's foot to yeast infections and histoplasmosis. Hudler even explains that chemicals in ergot, when ingested, can lead to formication, or "a sensation of ants crawling over the body." With a chapter providing advice for those interested in collecting wild mushrooms, there's something in this wonderful volume for just about every taste. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: None
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (September 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691028737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691028736
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a great, easy to read, well written scientific text (although not overly technical) about fungi in our environment. The book covers topics such as plant and fungal interactions, serious outbreaks of diseases that have been caused by fungi, medical mycology, a brief history of psilocybin mushrooms, and many other extremely interesting and practical topics. I am actually using this book as a text for a class I am teaching this quarter at UCSC. I highly reccomend it to anyone looking to learn more about fungi, or increase their knowledge of specific fungi that have been problematic in our culture. It is smooth reading and keeps your attention. Hudler is an eloquent writer.
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This book has been both highly informative (for example, I know so much more about the history of ergot in grain crops than I would have imagined), and incredibly entertaining (who'd have thought ergot could be so gripping??)! I highly recommend this book for any mushroom enthusiast, and for everyone else as well, it's definitely a must-read.
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Format: Hardcover
I wish everyone who read this book could also sit in Dr. Hudler's class and experience the entire semester. It's such a package deal. Dr. Hudler's lectures folow just like the book - they make you believe that education can be fun again. The whole book reads like some kind of fairy tale, only it's nonfiction and yet still thoroughly entertaining. He really gets you involved in the stories of thing,s like suddenly you belong in the world of fungi!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fungi are among the least understood and often most maligned organisms. The cast is huge and runs the gamut from ergot of rye through food plant pathogens, human and animal pathogens, molds, yeasts, mushrooms and rot fungi. All have complicated life cycles and are often only noticed when the put up fruiting bodies (as in mushrooms). While mushrooms have a certain following, most other fungi are not especially well liked. This is a bit of a pity, as many are quite interesting and some serve important functions from even our point of view.

George W. Hudler, a professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, has produced in "Magical Mushrooms. Mischievous Molds" a solid and well illustrated review of these important, but often ignored, life forms that should intrigue even those who find fungi boring. This well-written book certainly is an easy read and provides numerous fascinating facts about the fungus world. From the effects of ergot and hallucinogenic mushrooms to the tree death-dealing Dutch elm disease and fermenting yeasts, Hudler covers the field with a thoroughness not usually seen in a book of this size.

There have been several very good books on fungi in recent years, most involving mushrooms, but Hudler, has I think, written the best of all. A fascinating read and I recommend it highly!
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By mike on December 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book makes mushrooms fun. How that happenend I'll never know, but it happened! Buy it and read it! It's got my vote!
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