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The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes Hardcover – March 24, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0199941315 ISBN-10: 0199941319 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199941319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199941315
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Money enthusiastically presents evidence of diversity everywhere, no matter the magnification. ... This is a lucid and informative book. There is an impressive afterword of references and notes, and fine line drawings. So much that is lyrical and little-known waits to be discovered here - novelties that will appeal to new undergraduates as well as to incorrigible microbial enthusiasts like myself." --Nature


"Nicholas P. Money, mycologist and professor of biology at Miami University, has made an excellent contribution to science in popular culture with his new book, The Amoeba in the Room."--Kansas City Star


"Money succeeds, intellectually in convincing you that multicellular creatures count for little in the grand scheme of biology" --Wall Street Journal


"Writing passionately about a subject he clearly loves, Money, professor of botany at Miami Univ. (Ohio), explains the critically important, but largely overlooked, roles microbial organisms play in the world." --Publishers Weekly


"Amoeba in the Room grew on me. I found myself reading a few pages every nightEL always curious to read a little more. By the time I reached the end, the author had succeeded in making a rather profound and permanent change in my world view. If you are involved in biology education at any level, including elementary school, I recommend you read this book. Like the microbes themselves, Amoeba in the Room is easily overlooked but carries an important message." --Scientific Thrillers


"Money's book offers a glimpse into the lives of these often overlooked bacteria, fungi, amoebas and other microbes. Money's light-hearted writing helps prevent the lingo from becoming overwhelming, though, and readers who can weather the tricky language will find a fascinating and strange new world." --Science News


"...beautifully written, Money has a great style, and a very important message. To see what is really going on in the biosphere, the only zone of life that we know of at this point, you need a microscope. Bacteria are the gods of humans." --The Stranger


"Written with great skill and seasoned with wit, the book displays the expertise of the writer." --San Francisco Book Review


"Money's light-hearted writing helps prevent the lingo from becoming overwhelming, though, and readers who can weather the tricky language will find a fascinating and strange new world." --Science News


"Nicholas Money is an expert guide. This world will not seem the same to anyone who reads his book." --The Times Literary Supplement


"This is a fascinating, amazing, and thoroughly enthusiastic sketch of [the] subject ... The book helps orient us to new biological horizons - and new philosophic ones." --The Ecologist


"Money succeeds in driving hom his main point: biology isn't really about the animals." --New Scientist


About the Author


Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Botany at Miami University and author of The Triumph of the Fungi, Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores, Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard, and Mushroom.

More About the Author

Welcome to my book page. I'm a 52-year-old, breathtakingly attractive, Anglo-American author of a sextet of books on fungi and other microorganisms, and several works-in-progress. A handful of unpublished writings are available on www.nikmoney.com. My work is defined by my love of science and belief in its power to make sense of life, the universe, and everything else.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
ScienceThrillers review: In order to evaluate The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes, it’s critical to first define the book’s audience.

Here’s a useful indicator: tell me, what is a eukaryote? A prokaryote?

If you have no idea, this book is NOT for you. Move along.

Like many of the microorganisms it describes, Amoeba in the Room occupies a small, specialized niche. It is neither popular science with broad appeal, nor is it a textbook of microbiology. The book begins with a sort of pastoral musing by a microbiologist contemplating the exotic, invisible life in his Ohio backyard pond. Over the pages the author takes us on a global tour of the microbes, highlighting the incomparably strange and amazing features that are commonplace and ordinary among very small forms of life. He structures this journey by environment, from pond, to ocean, soil, fresh water, air, the insides of humans, and extreme environments, selecting a few striking microbes to highlight in each place while emphasizing the incomprehensible diversity and complexity of each ecosystem.

But Amoeba in the Room is both much less and much more than an inventory of remarkable microbes. (Author Money makes clear how foolhardy such an endeavor would be.) This book has a consistent message that culminates in the end with a call to arms. Money’s goal is to change the reader’s way of seeing the world, and especially to change the way we teach (and study) biology. One microbe at a time in the text, he gradually succeeds.

The tone is folksy and conversational but the content is intended for people who are fairly knowledgeable about biology in general and microbiology in particular.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Bacterialover on April 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publishers via NetGalley.

The purpose behind Money's "The Amoeba in the Room" resonates strongly with me as a microbiologist. It should resonate with anyone who is a biologist or is interested by the varied types of life on Earth. The TV documentaries "LIfe" and "Planet Earth" infuriated me with their focus on animals and plants alone. The vast majority of life on Earth is 'other' and microbial. "The Amoeba in the Room" sets out to make this clear and detail what exactly that microbial world looks like.

I personally was interested in reading this because I was expecting a focus on the protists, eukaryotic microbes that I'm not nearly adequately familiar with. The first chapter nicely gives a tour of this eukaryotic microbe world, including the amoeba, but much of the remainder of the book covers the prokaryotes: bacteria and archaea. This isn't a problem by any means, but for me personally, everything in the remainder of the book was well-known to me and probably will be to any microbiologist.

And that final point does get at the major concern I have with Money's work, namely who is the audience supposed to be. Parts of the book are written with a fair amount of scientific detail (or at least jargon that goes undefined) that it would be hard reading for someone who is not trained in modern molecular biology at least. Yet the scope covers such a broad range of topics that the information given should be familiar to most scientists. I can see this working best for perhaps a well-trained biologist who happens to be in macrobiology fields.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By aron row on May 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A new and wonderful world was revealed with the advent of the microscope in the 17th century. Since that beginning, littler and littler animalcules were discovered as viewing instruments increased in both magnification and resolution. Though familiar with the streaming globs of amoebae in introductory science, biology education touches lightly on the myriad varieties of microscopic life commonly known as the bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, and protozoans. These microbes are actually the essence of life on Earth, and the author, a Botany Professor at Miami University stresses that the four kingdoms of the eukaryotic fungi and protists, along with the prokaryotic bacteria and archaea are unfortunately neglected in science schooling. Without this microbial foundation, life on earth could and would not exist. Beginning with the multitudinous microbial life in his backyard pond, the story expands to describe the range of diversity of microorganisms in the air, sea, and ground. What especially astounds is the hordes of bacteria in the human gut itself. Written with great skill and seasoned with wit, the book displays the expertise of the writer and will appeal to the microbial expert, but unfortunately the scientific details will overly challenge the novice. Translating the content of this impressive book for the layperson would aid in conveying the message that biology education should emphasize microscopic life rather than the familiar macroscopic forms.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Victor J. Manuele MD on May 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a physician and therefore have familiarity with the subject on a limited scale. The main point of the book is that the world would be a better place if humans were not here. Well, not really the main point but it certainly is true. The author describes how dependent we all are on microbes in our bodies (10 trillion), in a cc of ocean water ( 100,000 cyanobacterium and 10 million bacteriophage). There are lots of hard to pronounce words, so at times you just want to give up but re really does lay out the fact that these organisms in the land and oceans and air and in our bodies are much more important than we are for sustaining life on earth. We are dependent on them for our digestion and our immunity and the air we breathe and we need them. They do not necessarily need us.
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