Microcosm’s First Review: You Are Required to Buy This Book

By Carl Zimmer | February 15, 2008 12:38 pm

After a lot of writing and a lot of waiting, the first review of my next book, Microcosm, has just come out. Actually, it’s coming out on Monday in Publisher’s Weekly, but they apparently couldn’t wait, sending out a link to it today in their weekly newsletter:

When most readers hear the words E. coli, they think tainted hamburger or toxic spinach. Noted science writer Zimmer says there are in fact many different strains of E. coli, some coexisting quite happily with us in our digestive tracts. These rod-shaped bacteria were among the first organisms to have their genome mapped, and today they are the toolbox of the genetic engineering industry and even of high school scientists. Zimmer (Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea) explains that by scrutinizing the bacteria’s genome, scientists have discovered that genes can jump from one species to another and how virus DNA has become tightly intertwined with the genes of living creatures all the way up the tree of life to humans. Studying starving E. coli has taught us about how our own cells age. Advocates of intelligent design often produce the E. coli flagellum as Exhibit A, but the author shows how new research has shed light on the possible evolutionary arc of the flagellum. Zimmer devotes a chapter to the ethical debates surrounding genetic engineering. Written in elegant, even poetic prose, Zimmer’s well-crafted exploration should be required reading for all well-educated readers.

They said it, not me. You have no choice–you must own it.


Comments (9)

  1. Congrats! Can’t wait to read it. Beautiful cover, by the way.

  2. Anna Barr

    I just recently started appreciating the far-reaching importance of this bacterium. No convincing needed on my side to buy the book, especially after reading your glowing first review. I really hope it ends up being a bestseller for you!

  3. Yup,
    You are right, Mr. Zimmer. A must-buy, must-read book.

    I have enjoyed your other books (and your articles and your blog) immensely. Looking forward to reading this!

    Congratulations on a fine review and thank you for writing.

    a fan

  4. If you mention the terms beneficial, or commensal, in relation to E.coli and the human gut I will have no choice but to write you a very angry e-mail!

  5. Happy to oblige, Carl… Just give me the time to finish “The descent of man”…

    And your old book on fish and whales…


  6. I mus buy this book

  7. outeast

    There’s been something I’ve been dying for, and here’s as good a place as any to mention it: real coffee-table editions of your books, meaning lavishly illustrated throughout rather than with a couple of meagre (though nice in themselves) wedges of pictures in the middle. When I’m reading about the different stages parasites go through and so on I want to see it – I want to see the flukes pouring from the toad and all that. And I want books that visitors will ohh and ahh (and eww) over, books that will last for years and that my kids will stumble across a decade from now and show to their fascinated and horrified friends… Pretty pretty please, do tell your publisher!!

  8. I enjoyed 3 of your other books: Parasite Rex, Evolution and Soul Made Flesh, so I will definitely be getting this book. Also I am a 3rd year microbiology student so I should be fairly knowledgeable on this books subject.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


See More

Collapse bottom bar