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Good Germs, Bad Germs

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From the Publisher: 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.

Press and Reviews for Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival
in a Bacterial World

From The New York Times: "Jessica Snyder Sachs's capable overview could hardly be more timely." (Abigail Zuger, MD)

From Newsweek: "As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, researchers are returning to an idea that dates back to Pasteur, that the body's natural microbial flora aren't just an incidental fact of our biology, but crucial components of our health, intimate companions on an evolutionary journey that began millions of years ago. The science writer Jessica Snyder Sachs summarizes this view in four words in the title of her ground-breaking new book: Good Germs, Bad Germs."

From O, The Oprah Magazine: "Snyder Sachs explains how our obsession with cleanliness led us to this point and details how science may still find a way past the danger."

From Barnes & Noble: Good Germs, Bad Germs

Twin horror stories lead off this slender but vastly informative examination of bacteria and their intimate, complex role in our lives. One is an account of a high school football star stricken by a drug-resistant infection; the second describes a child whose food allergies threaten his life. Jessica Snyder Sachs tells their tales movingly but swiftly leaves them behind for her real subject: how our modern "war on germs" may have given rise to both their conditions. What follows is a Fantastic Voyage through the human body and the world of its millions of microbial denizens. It's a journey that sheds light on why, for all the scientific advances in hygiene and antibiotics, developed countries continue to face new and more daunting challenges in the form of "superbugs" and out-of-control allergies. Sachs isn't afraid of a little lab-speak, and Good Germs, Bad Germs will often make you wish you'd paid more attention in Bio 101. But the author has a knack for giving dramatic form to the many organisms that take the stage here. As she demonstrates how microbes swap genes, send out radar-like detection molecules and brilliantly adapt to the strategies we use against them, we watch their astonishing feats as if in a brilliantly animated film. The result is an important -- and eye-opening -- inquiry into human-microbe coevolution. --Bill Tipper

From Library Journal:
"The paradigm shift of working with instead of against bacteria has the potential to revolutionize 21st -century medicine; Sachs's book is a thoughtful lay reader's guide to this emerging field. Recommended for most libraries."

From Publishers Weekly:

Science writer Sachs (Corpse) makes a strong case for a new paradigm for dealing with the microbial life that teems around and within us. Taking both evolutionary and ecological approaches, she explains why antibiotics work so well but are now losing their effectiveness. She notes that between agricultural antibiotic usage and needless prescriptions written for human use, antibiotic resistance has reached terrifying levels. A decade ago, resistant infections acquired in hospitals were killing an estimated eighty-eight thousand Americans each year... more than car accidents and homicides combined. Our attempts to destroy microorganisms regularly upset useful microbial communities, often leading to serious medical consequences. Sachs also presents evidence suggesting that an epidemiclike rise in autoimmune diseases and allergies may be attributable to our misguided frontal assault on the bacterial world. The solution proposed is to encourage the growth of healthy, displacement-resistant microbial ecological communities and promote research that disrupts microbial processes rather than simply attempting to kill the germs themselves. Despite the frightening death toll, Sachs's summary of promising new avenues of research offers hope. (Oct. 16) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Invited Reviews:

"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 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

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