Good Germs, Bad Germs
Health and Survival in a Bacterial World
By Jessica Snyder Sachs
(Hill and Wang, Hardcover, 9780809050635, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 16, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Making Peace with Microbes
Public sanitation and antibiotic drugs have brought about historic increases in the human life span; they have also unintentionally produced new health crises by disrupting the intimate, age-old balance between humans and the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and our environment. As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among the gravest medical problems of modern times. Good Germs, Bad Germs addresses not only this issue but also what has become known as the "hygiene hypothesis"-- an argument that links the over-sanitation of modern life to now-epidemic increases in immune and other disorders. In telling the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs, Jessica Snyder Sachs explores our emerging understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and its resident microbes--which outnumber its human cells by a factor of nine to one! The book also offers a hopeful look into a future in which antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones--each custom-designed for maximum health benefits.
Jessica Snyder Sachs is a freelance science writer. Her first book, Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death, was published in 2001. She lives in New Jersey.
"Jessica Snyder Sachs successfully weaves story–telling, history, microbiology and evolution into an exciting account of the two aspects of microbes for humankind—the good and the bad. Through direct interviews and other primary sources, she provides the reader with up-to-date reporting in the areas of drug resistance, infection and new therapeutics. The book is a wonderful read." —Stuart B. Levy, M.D., author of The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys their Curative Powers
"Jessica Snyder Sachs has a vital message about our future health: we have to get to know our microbes better. They are not simple germs to be wiped out with a magic drug, but complicated creatures whose existence is intimately intertwined with our own. In Good Germs, Bad Germs, Sachs delivers one of the best accounts of the cutting edge of microbiology I've read in recent years." —Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
"If germs had hands you’d want to shake them—at least to thank them for the good work they do. That counterintuitive truth is just one of many in Jessica Snyder Sachs’s Good Germs, Bad Germs, an alternately illuminating, fascinating and even amusing look into the curious world of microbes and how our very struggle to keep ourselves safe from them has put us in danger we never imagined. Sachs displays a rare gift for shining light into places you thought you’d never want to explore and then making you glad you had the courage to peek. This is splendid writing." —Jeffrey Kluger, Science Editor, Time, and author of SPLENDID SOLUTION: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio
"Good Germs, Bad Germs is incredibly well researched and contains a wealth of fascinating information. It is completely up to date, integrating science and health with the newest ideas on how microbes beneficially affect and even protect humans from disease."—Dale Umetsu, professor of immunology, Harvard Medical School
"Jessica Snyder Sachs’s Good Germs Bad Germs is an outstanding introduction to a complex scientific topic, presented in extremely clear and vivid language. Her approach outlines not only the deleterious effects of microbes, with which we are all too familiar, but also the beneficial side to this vast array of organisms, without which human life would be impossible. The book is a must read for anyone who wants to get 'the big picture' of the microbial world." —Garland E. Allen, professor of biology, Washington University
"The amazing thing about this book is that it unites in a remarkable way the particular—otherwise known as everyday life—with the sweepingly general—the historical perspective. It is educational, amusing, thought–provoking, and quirky by turns. It brings to life not only the individual scientists who shaped the modern era of microbiology but also the equally important lives of modern parents with critically ill children. I wish I had written this book." —Abigail Salyers, professor of microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and co-author of Revenge Of The Microbes: How Bacterial Resistance Is Undermining The Antibiotic Miracle