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Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria (FT Press Science) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 007-6092045748
ISBN-10: 0137015461
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Editorial Reviews


"Not surprisingly, people frequently view "germs" as enemies of humankind because media coverage usually involves an outbreak of disease. Writer and microbiologist Maczulak attempts to refute this perception by explaining how microbes such as bacteria are not only important for industry but also essential for human survival.The extensive bibliography encompasses Internet resources and classical readings as well as some professional references on the subject." Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and general readers. -- R. Adler, University of Michigan, Dearborn. Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.  

From the Back Cover

""In "Allies and Enemies," Anne Maczulak takes the mystery out of bacteria. Practical, useful, and very readable, Maczulak demystifies the world of bacteria and viruses. A fascinating book on an important subject. Highly recommended."" --Sheldon Siegel, author of The New York Times best-selling "Judgment Day" ""No nucleus? No problem! As a microbiologist, Anne Maczulak deeply appreciates the astonishing abilities of the ultra-simple organisms that rule our world and help operate our bodies. As a writer, she inspires her readers to want to know more about their secret realm. Allies and Enemies is both fun and practical as it interweaves science with history and popular culture."" --Jessica Snyder Sachs, author of "Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World" ""Anne Maczulak engagingly achieves the often difficult task to present the scope of modern microbiology in a nontechnical manner for general reading. "Allies and Enemies" covers the scope of the microbial world, from the continuing battle against microbe enemies who never give up the fight to the frontiers of how microbes create a livable environment for us. For those whose interest is perked for more about microbes, an excellent list of references and websites is provided."" --Charles P. Gerba (also known as "Dr. Germ"), University of Arizona, Tucson ""Anne Maczulak has done a masterful job of explaining the complex nuances of microbes in simple, easy-to-understand language. She explains the 'yin and yang' of the diverse microbial world with text that is rich with numerous historical vignettes. She takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the benefits of microbes to human existence, describing their finely articulated chemical mechanisms, their intricate dances of cooperation, their lightning speed adaptations, and their genetic plasticity, offering a glimpse of the underlying principles of the miracle of life."" --Philip M. Tierno Jr., Ph.D., Director, Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, New York University Langone Medical Center and New York University School of Medicine Bacteria: How they keep you alive. How they can kill you. How we can all live together happily. Bacteria are invisible, mysterious, deadly, self-sufficient...and absolutely essential for all life, including "yours." No other living things combine their elegant simplicity with their incredibly complex role: Bacteria keep us alive, supply our food, and regulate our biosphere. We can't live a day without them, and no chemical, antibiotic, or irradiation has ever successfully eradicated them. They're our partners, like it or not--even though some of them will happily kill us. "Allies and Enemies" tells the story of this amazing, intimate partnership. Authored by Anne Maczulak, a microbiologist who's hunted and worked with an extraordinary array of bacteria, this book offers a powerful new perspective on Earth's oldest creatures. You'll discover how bacteria work, how they evolve, their surprising contributions and uses, the roles they've played in human history, and why you can't survive without them. No form of life is more important, and in Maczulak's hands, none is more fascinating. " " Outlasted, outnumbered, outsmarted "They've been here four billion years"--"and they even outnumber you "in your own body " " How bacteria keep you alive... ."..and how to keep them from killing you" "Humans Defeat Germs!" "But not for long..." " " The Invisible Universe "The stunning hidden relationships between bacteria and the rest of nature" " "

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Product Details

  • Series: FT Press Science
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (July 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137015461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137015467
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,515,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ms. Maczulak did an excellent job with this book. It's factually correct and well-written, making it both pleasurable and educational to read. That's really saying something, considering that college texts on the subject of microbiology have a reputation for being rather challenging to read and understand. It's not that those books are badly done, it's that the topic is complex.

Ms. Maczulak removes the complexity to bring us a good overview of the role of bacteria in our lives and in the larger world around us. She exposes and corrects many myths, while also keeping her narrative in a framework that moves forward and helps the reader get "the big picture." Without crossing it, she walks the fine line between eye-glazing detail and enough detail to be a rich read. My eyes didn't glaze over once, during my reading of this book.

When I started reading this book, I thought it would be a good academic refresher. Before I finished reading it, that thought changed entirely. I think for most people, it is essential reading. A small example explains why.

Before I finished reading this book, I heard a radio commercial (I listen to the radio for a total of maybe 3 hours per month) for a product that should not be on the market. The commercial encourages parents to buy a chlorinated product for the kids to take to school and wipe everything with. Deliberately poisoning people is illegal, but for some reason if you poison kids with this product you won't go to jail for it. The hype is that this protects children from nasty bacteria. Parents who don't understand what is profoundly wrong with this product and why it's also unnecessary need to start educating themselves about the real world. This book provides a good start in that direction.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Don't take the title of my review as a slur, it's actually a complement. A sharp high school student wouldn't have a problem reading this book and an adult won't feel either talked down to or bored. Every student should read a book like this in school.

I think a lot of people in general need to read books like this for a little perspective. When you're at the gym, at the mall, or at work, you'll see people putting on hand sanitizer after they touch anything and freaking out about germs. Watch some TV for a short time and you're bound to see some product that will protect your kids because it's antibiotic implying you're obviously a bad parent if you don't run out and buy it right now! Woo...the germs are gonna get ya! Well, no they're probably not. You have this thing called an immune system that tends to handle most of that kind of thing and it pre-dates these products by quite a while. That's not to say the stuff is useless, just that soap and water and avoiding touching your face are still your best bet. People would probably be a lot less afraid of "germs", if they better understood bacteria.

The book touches on a number of ideas, like children possibly having more allergies now because the environments we grow up in are more sterile than a generation ago, thus less exposure early to bacteria. It also discusses the "bio-film" on every human's body. The layer of bacteria already on your skin helps to prevent your getting sick, because new bacteria you pick up from doorknobs, pencils, whatever have to contend with those already present. A wide variety of ways in which bacteria support us and other life are also mentioned.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was not sure what to expect from this book. The subtitle, "How the World Depends on Bacteria," made me think this might be for the layperson. After all, it's rather basic knowledge, I thought, the popularity of antibacterial soaps aside, that we depend on bacteria. So I had hoped for a book written for laypeople but substantial enough to keep the interest of an intelligent audience.

What I found was a surfeit of technical terms that made the reading rather slow and dull. If I were a biology student, I would expect to have to know the terms. As a well-educated general reader, I would prefer a book that proceeds more smoothly, that neither condescends nor preaches, and that conveys a sense of enthusiasm. In typing this list, I think of books like Richard Rhodes Deadly Feasts, which I read as a complete layperson and from which I learned a great deal, or Richard Coniff's Spineless Wonders, which so patently conveys the author's enthusiasm that it's nearly impossible not to share it.

This book, however, is dry, just this side of a textbook. There are, from time to time, portions that are fascinating, but for the most part, I felt as if I were in a biology class. That's not a bad thing, of course, if one wants to take biology. I was hoping for more about bacteria in action (as, for example, in the production of cheeses, pasteurization of them, and the diseases that arise from them) in relevant, real-world settings and less about the fundamentals and terminology. Others, of course, may want to read this for just the opposite reason, and to them, I commend the book.
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