Original Proposal

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Matt Lawlor
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Original Proposal

Post by Matt Lawlor »

Originally Posted by Matt Lawlor » Sun May 23, 2021 9:11 am – 159 views before being transplanted here

I propose that we read best-seller “An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System” by the NY Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Science Journalist Matt Richtel (William Morrow Publishing 3/24/2020 – 409 pages sans acknowledgement & index – $16.99 + shipping or $12.99 Kindle from Amazon.com).

Book Description per Amazon.com (usually quoting from a book’s fly cover)

From New York Times science journalist Matt Richtel, An Elegant Defense is an acclaimed and definitive exploration of the immune system and the secrets of health. Interweaving cutting-edge science with the intimate stories of four individual patients, this epic, first-of-its-kind book “give[s] lay readers a means of understanding what’s known so far about the intricate biology of our immune systems” (The Week).

The immune system is our body’s essential defense network, a guardian vigilantly fighting illness, healing wounds, maintaining order and balance, and keeping us alive. 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.

An Elegant Defense effortlessly guides readers on a scientific detective tale winding from the Black Plague to twentieth-century breakthroughs in vaccination and antibiotics, to today’s laboratories that are revolutionizing immunology—perhaps the most extraordinary and consequential medical story of our time. Drawing on extensive new interviews with dozens of world-renowned scientists, 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.”

Book Review Excerpts

“Vividly told. ... Explicates for the lay reader the intricate biology of our immune system. ... Richtel succeeds in this formidable task.”
-- JEROME GROOPMAN, New York Review of Books
[NB: Jerome Groopman is Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and author of five books for the general audience.]

“Richtel brilliantly blurs the lines between biology primer, medical historical text and the traditional first-person patient story. ... Richtel harnesses his reporter’s eye for the human condition.”
-- Washington Post

“In this thorough investigation, Richtel details the explosion of knowledge over the past 70 years. ... He weaves into his narrative four case studies [that] add a moving personal dimension.”
-- BBC, “10 Books to Read This Month”

“A thorough, richly entertaining and just-wonky-enough beginner’s class in immunology through the case studies of four patients.” -- Wall Street Journal

“Matt Richtel’s An Elegant Defense is a comprehensive and engaging primer on the body’s ‘ever-vigilant, omnipresent peacekeeping force.’ The immune system plays an essential role in fighting infections and cancer and in regulating our normal health. Read this superb book to better understand one of the enduring mysteries of human biology.”
-- SANDEEP JAUHAR, New York Times bestselling author of Heart: A History

“An expert examination of the immune system. … Richtel illuminates a complex subject so well that even physicians will learn.”
-- Kirkus, STARRED review

“Richtel approaches this essential subject with awe, his writing meticulous and empathic.”
-- Booklist, STARRED Review

“Award-winning reporter Matt Richtel examines the scientific and human realities of immune anomaly through four case studies. … Through these harrowing accounts, Richtel interweaves the research history.”
-- Nature, “Best Science Picks”

“A deeply reported and entertainingly written exploration of the human immune system and how it works.”
-- USA Today (”5 Books Not to Miss”)

“Compelling. … Richtel enthusiastically and compassionately demystifies the science and the story of one of the most intricate and misunderstood landscapes of human biology. … A celebration of life and the journey we all share.”
-- Washington Independent Review of Books

“Enlightening. … Readers who suffer from challenged immune systems will welcome validation for the physical and emotional trials they endure, gain deeper understanding of their ailments, and find hope for the future. Readers who are interested in the human body’s capacity to both harm or heal itself will be fascinated.”
-- New York Journal of Books

"Fascinating read, especially in the context of a pandemic. Through four personal stories, you discover the captivating complexity of our immune system, written in such a way that it’s an easy read for the layman."
-- Bloomberg News, A Best Book of 2020

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