309 pages, 20 b/w illustrations
Our world is built on an invisible one we are barely beginning to understand. In The Hidden Half of Nature, geologist David R. Montgomery and biologist Anne Biklé argue that Earth's smallest creatures – microbes – could revolutionize how we grow food, what we eat, and how we practice medicine.
The Hidden Half of Nature shares a geologist's and a biologist's efforts to turn their barren Seattle lot into a flourishing garden and Biklé's own struggle with cancer. Taking readers deep into the science and history of agriculture and immunology, Montgomery and Biklé show that beneficial microbes can provide powerful solutions to the problems plaguing modern agriculture, such as excess chemicals and infertile crops, as well as our own bodies, weakened by antibiotics and high-fat, low-fiber diets. A spellbinding story, The Hidden Half of Nature reveals how we can restore fertility to the land and defeat chronic diseases.
"A beautifully synthesized scientific memoir."
– Barbara Kiser, Nature
"A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned about their health and the soil under their feet."
– Kirkus Reviews
"The Hidden Half of Nature offers a wonderfully fresh and exquisitely informed approach that could change how we relate to ourselves, our diets, our gardens and our world."
– Tim McNulty, Seattle Times
"Montgomery and Biklé argue that when we farm and when we eat, we're feeding a diverse community of microorganisms. This book is sure to become a game-changing guide to the future of good food and healthy landscapes."
– Dan Barber, chef and author of The Third Plate
"[A] transformative read."
– Tom Philpott, Mother Jones
"The Hidden Half of Nature draws a straight line from the microbes that live in healthy soil to those that live in healthy guts, skillfully blending the personal and the scientific. This is a must-read for anyone concerned with their own health."
– Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist
"Amazingly detailed and well-researched. [...] [The Hidden Half of Nature] lays out the beautiful connection between the microbial garden in our bodies and the microbial garden in the Earth."
– Sally Peterson, Oregon Live
"The Hidden Half of Nature reads like a fast-paced novel but tells the true story of the workings of soils, and even our own bodies."
– Neil Shubin, author of The Universe Within
"One of the year's best books on gardens and health."
– Jim McCausland, Sunset Magazine
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David R. Montgomery is a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he lives. The author The Rocks Don't Lie and other books, he was a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.
Anne Biklé is a biologist, gardener, and environmental planner.