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An Elegant Defense

An Elegant Defense

The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives

eBook - 2019
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&;A deeply reported and entertainingly written exploration of the human immune system and how it works.&; &;USA Today

National Bestseller * Essential reading during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Pulitzer Prize&;winning New York Times journalist "explicates for the lay reader the intricate biology of our immune system" (Jerome Groopman, MD, New York Review of Books)

New York Times science reporter Matt Richtel's An Elegant Defense illuminates the human immune system as never before, uniquely entwining intimate patient stories with science&;s centuries-long quest to unlock the mysteries of sickness and health.

The immune system is our body&;s essential defense network, a guardian vigilantly fighting viruses and illness, healing wounds, maintaining order and balance, and keeping us alive. Its legion of microscopic foot soldiers&;from T cells to &;natural killers&;&;patrols our body, linked by a nearly instantaneous communications grid. It has been honed by evolution over millennia to face an almost infinite array of threats.

For all its astonishing complexity, however, the immune system can be easily compromised by fatigue, stress, toxins, advanced age, and poor nutrition&;hallmarks of modern life&;and even by excessive hygiene. Paradoxically, it is a fragile wonder weapon that can turn on our own bodies with startling results, leading today to epidemic levels of autoimmune disorders.

Richtel effortlessly guides readers on a scientific detective tale winding from the Black Plague to twentieth-century breakthroughs in vaccination and antibiotics, to the cutting-edge laboratories that are revolutionizing immunology&;perhaps the most extraordinary and consequential medical story of our time. The foundation that Richtel builds makes accessible revelations about cancer immunotherapy, the microbiome, and autoimmune treatments that are changing millions of lives. An Elegant Defense also captures in vivid detail how these powerful therapies, along with our behavior and environment, interact with the immune system, often for the good but always on a razor&;s edge that can throw this remarkable system out of balance.

Drawing on his groundbreaking reporting for the New York Times and based on extensive new interviews with dozens of world-renowned scientists (including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Matt Richtel has produced a landmark book, equally an investigation into the deepest riddles of survival and a profoundly human tale that is movingly brought to life through the eyes of his four main characters, each of whom illuminates an essential facet of our &;elegant defense.&;

Topical Term: Immune system
Electronic books
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : HarperCollins, 2019
ISBN: 9780062698506
Branch Call Number: eBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Sep 04, 2020

This is an interesting book, but it's also a really poorly written book. He uses the phrase, "elegant defense," repeatedly, sometimes multiple times on a single page, and seems to be trying too hard to be funny (he is not funny). Again: the content is interesting (although it leans heavily on the personal story of a patient who was a high school friend of the author), and I'm glad I read it. But it did feel a lot like reading the first popular press book written by an actual expert, when it's actually a book written by a professional writer who did nothing but interview experts. I'd forgive any of the experts consulted in the writing of this book, had he or she written something with prose as week as this one. But Richtel is a professional writer and should have done a lot better.

May 05, 2020

I was hoping for something more technically interesting. If you don't know much about the immune system and its many important roles in the body, this could be a good place to start. I has some good human-interest level stories in it - though he jumps around a lot. It's pretty 'basic' from a scientific point of view.

May 21, 2019

This is unreadable. I'm guessing that this author refused to work with a decent editor. He is all over the place. There is so much information here that is completely irrelevant. He goes on random tangents on nearly every page. It's fine for an author to have a ADD, but he really needs to accept the help of an Editor to make this a readable tome. Could not finish.


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