A groundbreaking narrative exploration of the human immune system – the key to human health and longevity – from the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and acclaimed author of A Deadly Wandering.
In the spirit of The Emperor of All Maladies, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Matt Richtel explores as never before the key to human health: the immune system. An Elegant Defense combines deep science told with great accessibility through interviews and engaging anecdotes from the world's leading scientists. Building on Richtel's acclaimed series of articles on immunotherapy in the New York Times, An Elegant Defense brings the science to life through the stories of four intimate and extraordinary medical stories: a cancer patient risen from the grave; an HIV patient considered a medical marvel; and two invisible women who suffer the stark ignominy of autoimmunity.
Through science and storytelling, readers will come to understand how the body marshals its forces to fight bacteria, virus, parasite and tumor but also how the system that defends us can become a threat when overheated. Richtel also explores how modern life puts unprecedented stress on the very system that keeps us healthy, and he unpacks the explosion of autoimmune disorders. This will be the first-ever pop-science look at a system that rivals in complexity the brain and that is widely misunderstood with misconceptions allowing consumers to be duped by products like antibacterial soaps or immune boosters that often prove counterproductive to health. In the end, the strides made by the immunologists in An Elegant Defense offer a glimpse at a future of longer, more comfortable life and of authentic understanding of the forces the drive survival.
Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and bestselling nonfiction and mystery author. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Meredith, a neurologist, and their two children. In his spare time, he plays tennis and piano and writes (not very good) songs.