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The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes

Popular Science

By: Nicholas P Money(Author)

228 pages, 8 plates with 14 colour photos and colour illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Apr 2014 | #209149 | ISBN-13: 9780199665938
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £16.99 $22/€19 approx

About this book

Animals and plants rule the world – or do they? A cup of seawater contains 100 million cells which are preyed upon by billions of viruses; a pinch of soil swarms with cryptic microbes whose activities are a mystery; 50 million tons of fungal spores are released into the atmosphere every year and affect the weather; and, human beings are mobile ecosystems that farm, and are farmed by, vast populations of bacteria and viruses involved with almost every aspect of our wellbeing. These are the vast, unnoticed, unmentioned 'elephants in the room' of planet earth.

The more we learn about microbial biodiversity, the less important do animals and plants become in our understanding life on earth. The flowering of microbial science is revolutionizing biology and medicine in ways unimagined even a decade or two ago, and is inspiring a new view of what it means to be human. Nicholas P. money explores the extraordinary breadth of the microbial world and the vast swathes of biological diversity that are now becoming recognized using molecular methods. Money argues for nothing less than a revolution in our perception of the living world: the big lumbering forms we see are just froth on a vast ocean of single-celled protists, bacteria, and viruses that constitute most of life on earth.

Watch an introduction below


"I found this book immensely enjoyable and I would encourage anyone wanting to know more about the huge swathe of life on the planet that passes us by unseen to seek out a copy. Indeed, I have recommended it to my students and it will be recommended reading for one of my modules [...] a fascinating read [...] a beautifully written book"
The Biologist, Professor Dale Walters Cbiol FSB

"fascinating and often startlingly funny book [...] This is a truly revolutionary book that turns on its head the way we see the world"
– Robert Hanbury Tenison, Country Life

"Nicholas Money is an excellent guide [...] The world will not seem the same to anyone who reads his book."
– Helen Bynum, Times Literary Supplement

"An impassioned fascination for microscopic life around and within us [...] Overall, Money delivers a heady mixture of history, philosophy, art and even poetry [...] This is a lucid and informative book. There is an impressive afterword of references and notes, and fine line drawings. So much that is lyrical and little-known waits to be discovered here – novelties that will appeal to new undergraduates as well as to incorrigible microbial enthusiasts like myself."
– Mark O. Martin, Nature

"[An] excellent introduction to modern microbiology."
Science Uncovered

"Beautifully written [...] Money has a great style, and a very important message. To see what is really going on in the biosphere, the only zone of life that we know of at this point, you need a microscope. Bacteria are the gods of humans."
The Stranger

"This is a fascinating, amazing, and thoroughly enthusiastic sketch of [the] subject [...] The book helps orient us to new biological horizons – and new philosophic ones."
The Ecologist

"Written with great skill and seasoned with wit, the book displays the expertise of the writer."
San Francisco Book Review

"Money succeeds, intellectually in convincing you that multicellular creatures count for little in the grand scheme of biology."
The Wall Street Journal

"Money's light-hearted writing helps prevent the lingo from becoming overwhelming, though, and readers who can weather the tricky language will find a fascinating and strange new world."
Science News



1: Eden
2: Lenses
3: Leviathan
4: Dirt and Water
5: Air
6: Naked Ape
7: Vulcan's Forge and Dante's Hell
8: New Jerusalem


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Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Botany and Western Program Director at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed papers on fungal biology and has authored four books, including, Mr. Bloomfield's Orchard, The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycologists (2002), and Mushroom (2011) described by Nature magazine as a 'brilliant scientific and cultural exploration' of his research subject.

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