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

Ed Yong


I must say I expected to enjoy this book much more than I did. The premise is powerful: the effects that bacteria have at a macro scale in terms of human health and even behaviour. There are some wonderful musings on the far-reaching effects of bacterial evolution, for example in the observation that all eukaryotic cells (those with mitochondria and a nucleus) come from a single common ancestor, strongly suggesting that this is an evolutionary event that happened only once – and so might not occur in other contexts, making life more scarce in the universe than we might otherwise think.

Despite these tours de force, there's something unsatisfactory about the presentation. It's too breathless, too focussed, too willing to ascribe almost any phenomenon to bacterial causes and influences. A more balanced, shorter, presentation might have served better for me.

Finished on Sat, 11 Nov 2017 04:11:13 -0800.   Rating 2/5.