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How the Immune System Works, Includes Desktop Edition 4th Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470657294
ISBN-10: 0470657294
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This edition is well justified since immunology is a constantly evolving field.”  (Doody’s, 12 July 2013)

What users of the previous edition said:

"The voice of the author is one of a true teacher whose enthusiasm for the subject is contagious. There are far too many dry, "academic," or "scientific" textbooks around and this book felt very fresh in comparison." Medical Student, University of Texas, South Western Medical Center at Dallas

"As if immersed in a conversation, this book is able to balance the line between facts, humor and history. The analogies and metaphors allow such a notorious subject to be leisurely digested over a couple days. From references to the Pillsbury Doughboy, Grace Kelly, quarterbacks and the Bubble Boy, this is an entertaining read as well as an informational read." Medical Student, Eastern Virginia Medical School

"Best textbook I have ever had! I am a first-year veterinary student. This book was a required text and I am SO glad I bought it! Very thin book, super easy to read. It is like reading a good story. This is a must for anyone taking immunology." Amazon.com reviewer

From the Back Cover

How the Immune System Works is not a comprehensive textbook. It’s the book thousands of students have used to help them understand what’s in their big, thick, immunology texts. In this book, Dr. Sompayrac cuts through the jargon and details to reveal, in simple language, the essence of this complex subject.

Fifteen easy to follow lectures, featuring the uniquely popular humorous style and engaging analogies developed by Dr Sompayrac, provide an introduction to the ‘bigger picture’, followed by practical discussion on how each of the components interacts with one another. 

Now featuring full-color diagrams, this book has been rigorously updated for its fourth edition to reflect today’s immunology teaching and includes updated discussion of B and T cell memory, T cell activation, vaccines, immunodeficiency, and cancer.

Whether you are completely new to immunology, or require a refresher, How the Immune System Works is an enjoyable way of engaging with the key concepts – you need know nothing of the workings of the immune system to benefit from this book!

How the Immune System Works is now accompanied by a FREE enhanced Wiley Desktop Edition - the interactive, digital version of the book - featuring downloadable text and images, highlighting and note taking facilities, book-marking, cross-referencing, in-text searching, and linking to references and glossary terms. It is also available from CourseSmart for instant, online and offline access for studying anytime, anywhere.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4 edition (January 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470657294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470657294
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.3 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Let's Compare Options Preptorial TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A few reviews have said that this little 141 page text is "dated." Two persepectives:

1. The material covered is timeless. Our understanding of T and B cells will evolve over time, but the basic function, and the ideas of receptor sites, etc. are so fundamental that a few decades here or there cannot possibly subtract from the immense value of this text.

2. Current thinking ("2020") is that we're entering an era of completely recasting the immune system, with as revolutionary a paradigm shift as recombinant DNA itself. One aspect of this is thinking of this system as multiple systems (6 or more in some literature). Another is the role of microRNA (small ds- double stranded RNA) and the epigenomic phenomena of RNA-interference.

These phenomena don't subtract from antibody or cell mediated immunity as models, they ADD to them. For complete coverage of the new models, without spending a fortune or trying to scan a whole large text, see any book or recent article by Dr. Bagasra, including:Immunology and the Quest for an HIV Vaccine: A New Perspective .

That out of the way, when our ClassPros and Library Picks surveys poll med students, THIS little text has come up in the top 5 for over a decade (and the top 1 or 2 in the last 3 years)! How is it possible, with texts of 1,000 pages, that an 8.5 x 11" 141 page, colorful "High School" looking monograph consistently takes these honors?

The answer is the astonishing flow of the metaphors coupled with "aha" pictures and illustrations on every page.
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Ahh, I found this be a refreshing take on the workings of the immune system. I was surprised at how thin the book is, but it still contains a decent overview of the immune system - enough to get a good grasp on things, but not burdened with the kind of detail that some other immunology textbooks are. I think it would be perfect for someone who is interested in the immune system, who wants to learn about it, but doesn't have to be tested on all of the details. This is a FUN book, and Lauren Sompayrac does a fantastic job of explaining the immune system using words that normal people can understand.

I'd be surprised if this was actually used in an Immunology class, as it is quite small. I used it as a supplement to Janeway's Immunobiology, which is just overwhelming, but which was the formal text used in my Immunology course. I would use the Sompayrac book to get a basic understanding of things either before or right after lecture, and then would read the Janeway text while re-listening to my lectures, in order to fill in the details. It was still tough, but this book made it a little bit easier and may have staved off a few gray hairs. I'll be keeping this book around, and will probably re-sell the Janeway's text, as I won't need to know all the nitty-gritties of the immune system later on.
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I have been struggling to understand papers written about the immune system for years and finally decided to go back to Square One and relearn it all. This book is not only clearly written, but fun (see the hot dog bun explanation of MHC I and II molecules on page 9). Best of all, the author understands what can be confusing to the novice and explains it (page 27: "Immunologists say that B cell receptors are 'cross-linked' although they really are not linked together" and page 45 "Dendritic antigen presenting cells don't kill and macrophages don't travel"). The subject matter is still very complex and I'm on my fourth time through the first few chapters, but at least what I'm trying to learn is, for once, clearly presented.
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I will be brief.

I am now working in this field and while I have much much much to learn, every article I read and every colleague I speak to has yet to throw me with a concept that was not at least touched on by this remarkably concise and easy to read book. It rocks!
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Every once in a while you may want a quick refresher on the immune system especially if like me the first time you did it was in the 60s and little we learned then applies now. But this material is short, accurate, current, and highly digestible. I do not know how well it would be for the first time through, I suspect it would be great there too, but for a look again it is right on top of my list.
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I'm interested in how the body works, so that I can find a path to good long-term health. I read several books before this one, and learned from them, but didn't get the detail that I wanted. This book was perfect: enough detail to understand the major components, not so much as to get bogged down in details, and all very well organized.

One of the things that struck me about this book is how it explains the effects of the food sensitivities that are so common today. If a food protein leaks through your gut wall and is considered a foreign attacker by your immune system, so that memory B and/or T cells are created, then the next time you encounter it your immune system is primed to respond. Your B/T memory cells crank up, and in 3-4 days you will have very high levels of antibodies and/or T cells. The half-life of antibodies is about 2 weeks, so it takes a while for the immune response to die down.

These food-based immune responses can have two different effects: if it creates antibodies and/or T cells that attack your body, you will have auto-immune symptoms after eating the food. Or, if you are trying to heal from an infection, the immune response to the trigger food will distract your immune system and divert major resources into attacking food proteins, causing the actual infection to continue or get worse.

It is very common for people with auto-immune diseases to have "flares" when they eat foods that cause an auto-immune response: these flares may take a few days to start, and can last for 1 to 3 weeks. It is also common for people with a chronic infection (Lyme, candida, hepatitis, HIV) to have flare-ups when they eat trigger foods, and these flare-ups have the same pattern.
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