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Your body is teeming with tens of trillions of microbes. It's an entire world, a colony full of life. In other words, you contain multitudes. These microscopic companions sculpt our organs, protect us from diseases, guide our behaviour, and bombard us with their genes. They also hold the key to understanding all life on earth.
In I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems. We learn the invisible and wondrous science behind the corals that construct mighty reefs and the squid that create their own light shows. We see how bacteria can alter our response to cancer-fighting drugs, tune our immune system, influence our evolution, and even modify our genetic make-up. And we meet the scientists who are manipulating these microscopic partners to our advantage. In a million tiny ways, I Contain Multitudes will radically change how you think about the natural world, and how you see yourself.
Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer who reports for The Atlantic. His blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science, is hosted by National Geographic, and his work has also appeared in Wired, the New York Times, Nature, the BBC, New Scientist, Scientific American, the Guardian, The Times and more. He lives in London.
"Beyond fascinating. An amazing book. It'll change the way you think about the world. It'll change who you think you are."
– Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk
"Ed Yong has done something beautiful, and unlikely: he's rendered the unseen world of bacteria thrilling, captivating and highly entertaining. This is a much-needed guide to the hidden kingdom that dominates life on Earth. It cuts through all the buzzwordy hooey and flakey hype of microbiomes with a scientifically steady hand, but told with an infectious sense of awe."
– Adam Rutherford, broadcaster and author of Creation
"Ed Yong has written a riveting account of the microbes that make the world work. I Contain Multitudes will change the way you look at yourself – and just about everything else."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sixth Extinction
"With a simply wonderful book, Ed Yong opens the doorway to a hidden world around and inside us. He's smart, he's witty, and he's at the cutting edge. You could not get a better guide."
– Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back and Messy
"Ed Yong is one of our finest young explainers of science-wicked smart, broadly informed, sly, savvy, so illuminating. And this is an encyclopedia of fascinations-a teeming intellectual ecosystem, a keen book on the intricacies of the microbiome and more."
– David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo and Spillover