Far beneath our skin exists an unfathomable, ancient universe – an internal Eden that is critical to our health. Dr Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome, unfurling its inner workings and evolution, in a book that stands as the Silent Spring of our day. For thousands of years, bacteria and human cells have peacefully co-existed in a relationship that has ensured the health and equilibrium of our body. But now, much like the natural world outside of us, our internal environment is being irrevocably destroyed. The culprit: some of our most revered medical and social advances, from antibiotics to sterile housekeeping, which appear to be linked to the epidemics of asthma, eczema, obesity, and other chronic diseases plaguing modern society. With Missing Microbes, Blaser sounds a provocative alarm that we ignore at our peril.
Martin Blaser is a world-renowned expert on the role of bacteria in human disease. He is Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, where he directs the Human Microbiome Program, and his work has been published in leading journals including BMJ and the Lancet. Blaser and his groundbreaking research have been covered by the BBC, CNN, Wired, New Scientist, Nature, The New Yorker, the New York Times, and many others. He lives in New York City.
"A restless intellect [...] [Blaser] has devoted most of his working life to the study."
- The New Yorker
"Dr Blaser's credibility as a world class scientist and physician makes this exploration of our body's microbial world particularly provocative. Missing Microbes will make you rethink some fundamental ideas about infection. Blaser's gift is to write clearly and to take the reader on a fascinating journey through the paradoxes and insights about the teeming world within us."
- Abraham Verghese MD, bestselling author of Cutting for Stone
"I have often wondered why kids today seem to have such a high incidence of asthma, ear infections, allergies, reflux oesophagitis and so many other conditions that I rarely saw growing up. This mystery has been solved by the pioneering work of Dr Martin Blaser and is communicated brilliantly in Missing Microbes. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this book to your own health, to the health of your children and grandchildren and to the health of our society. Missing Microbes is truly a must read."
- Arthur Agatston, New York Times bestselling author of The South Beach Diet
"We live today in a world of modern plagues, defined by the alarming rise of asthma, diabetes, obesity, food allergies and metabolic disorders. This is no accident, argues Martin Blaser, the renowned medical researcher: the common link being the destruction of vital bacteria through the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Missing Microbes is science writing at its very best – crisply argued and beautifully written, with stunning insights about the human microbiome and workable solutions to an urgent global crisis."
- David M. Oshinsky, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Polio
"Why are you fat, why does your son has asthma, and why is your thireen-year-old daughter six feet tall? Martin Blaser says our bodies are missing vital, beneficial bacteria, and I guarantee that after reading this book you will agree. Take a pass on the antibiotics and read Missing Microbes."
- Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer
"Fascinating and passionate."
"Most bacteria are our friends even if we don't yet realize it. In this book, Martin Blaser opens a window on the unseen microbes who live with us and have made us their home. We should appreciate them for everything they do for us – including keeping many nasty pathogens at bay. I recommend Missing Microbes to everyone, whether scientist or lay reader. Let's make peace, not war, with the bacteria who support us."
- Sir Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Prize-winning biologist
"An engrossing examination of the relatively unheralded yet dominant form of life on Earth."
- Publishers Weekly
"A masterful work of preventive health and superb science writing."
"In Missing Microbes, Martin Blaser sounds [an] alarm. He patiently and thoroughly builds a compelling case that the threat of antibiotic overuse goes far beyond resistant infections."
"As a world leader in defining the microbiome, Dr Blaser explains how disturbing its natural balance is affecting common conditions such as obesity and diabetes, long thought of as primarily nutrition and lifestyle related problems. Blaser's carefully and convincingly written book outlines new dimensions that need to be considered in fighting a number of common diseases and in promoting health and well-being."
- Richard Deckelbaum, Director, Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University
"Blaser presents a sensible plan for reclaiming our microbial balance and avoiding calamity both as a society [...] and on the individual level."
"Unlike some books on medicine and microbes, Dr Blaser doesn't stir up fears of exotic diseases or pandemic "superbugs" resistant to all known drugs. He focuses on a simpler but more profound concern: the damage that modern life inflicts on a vast number of microbes that all of us, even healthy people, carry inside us at all times."
- Wall Street Journal
"In a world that turns to antibiotics for every infection of the ear, sinuses, or skin, Dr Blaser makes even the most nervous parent think twice about giving her child these ubiquitous drugs [...] Blaser delivers a thoughtful, well-written, and compelling case for why doctors need to be more cautious about prescribing these medications and why consumers should consider alternatives before taking them."
- Nirav R. Shah MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health, New York State
"Very readable [...] frighteningly convincing"
- New Scientist