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Missing Microbes

How Killing Bacteria Creates Modern Plagues

Martin Blaser

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.

  • Publication date: April 16, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780746883
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 288


‘Excellent popular science’ 

Independent on Sunday



‘Very readable… frighteningly convincing’

New Scientist

'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

'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.'


'Fascinating and passionate.'


Martin Blaser

Dr 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.

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