I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (Paperback)
New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Notable Book of 2016
NPR Great Read of 2016
Economist Best Books of 2016
Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2016
Smithsonian Best Books about Science of 2016
Science Friday Best Science Book of 2016
A Mother Jones Notable Read of 2016
A Bill Gates “Gates Notes” Pick
MPR Best Books of 2016
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2016
Minnesota Star-Tribune Best of the Year
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
A PW Best Book of the Year
Guardian Best of the Year
Times (London) Best of the Year
A groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.
Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
About the Author
Ed Yong is a science writer who reports for The Atlantic. For his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, he won the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting, the George Polk Award for science reporting, and other honors. His first book, I Contain Multitudes, was a New York Times bestseller. He is based in Washington, DC.
“In I Contain Multitudes, Yong synthesizes literally hundreds and hundreds of papers, but he never overwhelms you with the science. He just keeps imparting one surprising, fascinating insight after the next. I Contain Multitudes is science journalism at its best.”
— Bill Gates
“[An] excellent and vivid introduction to our microbiota. . . . infectiously enthusiastic.”
— New York Times Book Review
“A science journalist’s first book is an excellent, vivid introduction to the all-enveloping realm of our secret sharers.”
— New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
“Offer[s] engrossing-and gross-details about how an invisible world shapes our species…Mr. Yong’s book lives up to its title, containing multitudes of facts presented in graceful, accessible prose….The author wonderfully turns to the humanities again and again to enrich the book’s scientific detail…And he’s funny.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Not since de Kruif’s classic, “Microbe Hunters,’’ has this invisible world been brought so vividly to life… Yong’s curiosity and humor made me smile and even laugh out loud, much to my husband’s surprise. By the end of the book his sense of wonder for microbes was, well, infectious.”
— Boston Globe
“For a lesser writer, the temptation to oversimplify the science or to sex up unwarranted conclusions might have proved irresistible. Mr Yong expertly avoids these pitfalls…. I Contain Multitudes bowls along wonderfully without it. His hero, Sir David [Attenborough], would surely approve.”
— The Economist
“Beautifully written. . . . Yong - who like Carl Zimmer belongs to the highest tier of science journalists at work today - weaves revelatory anecdotes and cutting-edge reporting into an elegant, illuminating page-turner.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Beautiful, smart, and sometimes shocking.”
“Masterful . . . a tale that shifts our personal cosmology and compels us to look anew at the world
— The Guardian
“A delightful, witty book. Yong vividly describes the intricate alliances forged by microbes with every other organism on the planet