A Best Book of the Year
Seed Magazine • Granta Magazine • The Plain-Dealer
In this fascinating and utterly engaging book, Carl Zimmer traces E. coli's pivotal role in the history of biology, from the discovery of DNA to the latest advances in biotechnology. He reveals the many surprising and alarming parallels between E. coli's life and our own. And he describes how E. coli changes in real time, revealing billions of years of history encoded within its genome. E. coli is also the most engineered species on Earth, and as scientists retool this microbe to produce life-saving drugs and clean fuel, they are discovering just how far the definition of life can be stretched.
“A powerful account of the dynamic, complicated and social world we share with this ordinary yet remarkable bug.... Exciting, original and wholly persuasive.”
“Superb. . . . A quietly revolutionary book.”
—The Boston Globe
“Creepy, mind-twisting, and delightful all at the same time”
—Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air
“This award-winning science writer has turned out an illuminating biography of one of biology's most influential-and underappreciated-players.”
“Engrossing.... Zimmer adroitly links the common heritage we share with E. coli and the emerging horizons of science.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"Microcosm could well be entitled Fantastic Voyage. Carl Zimmer, one of our most talented and respected science writers, guides us on a memorable journey into the invisible but amazing world within and around a tiny bacterium. He reveals a life-or-death battle every bit as dramatic as that on the Serengeti and one that offers profound insights into how life is made and evolves. Microcosm expands our sense of wonder by illuminating a microscopic universe few could imagine and instills a sense of pride in the great achievements of the scientists who have discovered and mastered its workings."
—Sean B. Carroll, author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful and The Making of the Fittest
"Written in elegant, even poetic prose, Zimmer's well-crafted exploration should be required reading for all well-educated readers."
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Carl Zimmer writes about science for The New York Times, and his work also appears in National Geographic, Scientific American, and Discover, where he is a contributing editor. He won a 2007 National Academies Communication Award, the highest honor for science writing. He is the author of five prevcious books, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea and Parasite Rex, for which he has earned fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Zimmer also writes an award-winning blog, The Loom. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and children.