I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (Hardcover)

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life Cover Image
By Ed Yong
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New York Times Bestseller

New York Times Notable Book of 2016

NPR Great Read of 2016

Economist Best Books of 2016

Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2016

Smithsonian Best Books about Science of 2016

Science Friday Best Science Book of 2016

A Mother Jones Notable Read of 2016

A Bill Gates “Gates Notes” Pick

MPR Best Books of 2016

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2016

Minnesota Star-Tribune Best of the Year

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

A PW Best Book of the Year

Guardian Best of the Year

Times (London) Best of the Year

Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.

The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

Praise For…


“In I Contain Multitudes, Yong synthesizes literally hundreds and hundreds of papers, but he never overwhelms you with the science. He just keeps imparting one surprising, fascinating insight after the next. I Contain Multitudes is science journalism at its best.”

“[An] excellent and vivid introduction to our microbiota. . . . infectiously enthusiastic.”

“A science journalist’s first book is an excellent, vivid introduction to the all-enveloping realm of our secret sharers.”

“Offer[s] engrossing-and gross-details about how an invisible world shapes our species…Mr. Yong’s book lives up to its title, containing multitudes of facts presented in graceful, accessible prose….The author wonderfully turns to the humanities again and again to enrich the book’s scientific detail…And he’s funny.”

“Not since de Kruif’s classic, “Microbe Hunters,’’ has this invisible world been brought so vividly to life… Yong’s curiosity and humor made me smile and even laugh out loud, much to my husband’s surprise. By the end of the book his sense of wonder for microbes was, well, infectious.”

“For a lesser writer, the temptation to oversimplify the science or to sex up unwarranted conclusions might have proved irresistible. Mr Yong expertly avoids these pitfalls…. I Contain Multitudes bowls along wonderfully without it. His hero, Sir David [Attenborough], would surely approve.”

“Beautifully written. . . . Yong - who like Carl Zimmer belongs to the highest tier of science journalists at work today - weaves revelatory anecdotes and cutting-edge reporting into an elegant, illuminating page-turner.”

“Beautiful, smart, and sometimes shocking.”

“Masterful . . . a tale that shifts our personal cosmology and compels us to look anew at the world

“A delightful, witty book. Yong vividly describes the intricate alliances forged by microbes with every other organism on the planet

“[Yong’s] enthusiasm and wonder are propulsive. While [he] acknowledges that the questions outnumber the answers in this relatively nascent field, he thrills to the potential inherent in what scientists have already learned about microbes’ astonishing powers. As a result, so do we.”

“The strong narrative, rigorous reporting and fluid writing make I Contain Multitudes one of the most essential science books of the year. Yong’s wit, and endearing inability to pass up an opportunity for wordplay, are just a couple of the many bonuses that make it enjoyable, too.”

“Fascinating and elegantly written. . . . Yong peels the veneer of the visible to reveal the astonishing complexity of life thriving beneath and within the crude confines of our perception. . . . masterful [and] intensely interesting.”

“An exceptionally informative, beautifully written book that will profoundly shift one’s sense of self to that of symbiotic multitudes.”

“[A] informative and infectiously readable book.”

“Bottom line: don’t hate or fear the microbial world within you. Appreciate its wonders. After all, they are more than half of you.”

“Yong makes a superb case for his position by interviewing numerous scientists and presenting their fascinating work in an accessible and persuasive fashion.”

“Readable and entertaining. . . . Highly recommended for general science readers interested in the complicated relationships between microbes and their hosts.”

“Yong writes like Sagan did, with humor and a deep understanding of science. The incredible partnerships these microbes have with all of us, the weird facts that enlighten our knowledge, our own view of nature: they all will change once we understand these partnerships better.”

“Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes is wonderful. Deeply strange, true, funny, beautifully written.”

“Ed Yong is one of our finest young explainers of science-wicked smart, broadly informed, sly, savvy, so illuminating. And this is an encyclopedia of fascinations-a teeming intellectual ecosystem, a keen book on the intricacies of the microbiome and more.”

“I Contain Multitudes changes you the way all great science writing does. You become disoriented, looking at the world around you in a new way. With vivid tales and graceful explanations, Ed Yong reveals how the living things we see around us are wildly complex collectives.”

“Beyond fascinating. An amazing book. It’ll change the way you think about the world. It’ll change who you think you are.”

Ed Yong has written a riveting account of the microbes that make the world work. I Contain Multitudes will change the way you look at yourself—and just about everything else.”

“This compelling and beautifully written book will change the way people look at the world around, and within, them. Certainly among the best books in an increasingly crowded field and written with a true passion for and understanding of the microbiome.”

“Yong has captured the essence of this exciting field, expressing the enthusiasm and wonder that the scientific community feels when working with the microbiome.”

“A marvelous book! Ed Yong’s brilliant gift for storytelling and precise writing about science converge in I Contain Multitudes to make the invisible and tiny both visible and mighty. A unique, entertaining, and smart read.”

“A must-read for the curious and science-minded, Yong’s book helps guide us through this exciting landscape.”


Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062368591
ISBN-10: 0062368591
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
Pages: 368
Language: English