Missing Microbes

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Pages: 288
Subject: Popular Science
Imprint: Oneworld

Missing Microbes

How Killing Bacteria Creates Modern Plagues

Martin Blaser

A clarion call to save humanity's most essential fellow creatures - and our health
9781780744414 (2 Jun 2014)
RRP £12.99

The Book

A clarion call to save humanity's most essential fellow creatures - and our health

Far beneath our skin exists an unfathomable, ancient universe - an internal ecosystem that is critical to our health. Dr Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human ‘microbiome', unfurling its inner workings and evolution. For thousands of years, bacteria and human cells have 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 advances - antibiotics - which appear to be linked to the epidemics of asthma, eczema, obesity, certain forms of cancer, and other diseases plaguing modern society.

In a book that stands as the Silent Spring of its day, Blaser sounds a provocative alarm that we ignore at our peril.

Additional Information

Subject Popular Science
Pages 288
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Martin J. Blaser MD has studied the role of bacteria in human disease for more than thirty years. He is the director of the Human Microbiome Program at New York University, served as the chair of medicine at NYU and as the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and has had major advisory roles at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He cofounded the Bellevue Literary Review and his work has been written about in publications that include The New Yorker, Nature, The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His more than one hundred media appearances include the BBC, CNN, NPR, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The O'Reilly Factor. He lives in New York City.


‘A fascinating book… should appeal to open-minded doctors, scientists and other interested professionals’ 

- Pulse



‘Very convincing… suggests a number of practical solutions… written at a cracking pace, this is a good read for both the public and healthcare professionals' 

- BBC Focus

‘Very readable… frighteningly convincing'

- New Scientist

'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

'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

‘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

'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

'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.'

- Booklist

'Fascinating and passionate.'

- Bookseller

'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

‘Blaser presents a sensible plan for reclaiming our microbial balance and avoiding calamity both as a society...and on the individual level.'

- Discover

'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

‘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.'

- Nature

'A restless intellect... [Blaser] has devoted most of his working life to the study.'

- The New Yorker

‘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

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