How the Immune System Works / Edition 2

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Blackwell now offers the 2nd edition of How the Immune System Works. Written in the same offbeat "lecture-style" you're familiar with, this new edition provides a perfect introduction to the essential principles of the immune system, covered in 9 humorous, but highly informative, "lectures." Perfect as an exam-prep review or an enjoyable overview of a difficult subject.

The book contains predominantly two-color illustrations, with some black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Marion C. Cohen
This book is a description of the overall basic rules by which the immune system protects us from disease. It attempts to put rather complicated concepts into a simple—but not simplistic—""big picture"" and is intended to be used either as a freestanding introduction to immunology or as a companion to other texts. The purpose is to provide students with an overall view of the immune system. The author felt that a short book that tells how the various parts of the immune system fit together in a style free of jargon and details was needed. Many students who have taken immunology would agree that their texts generally do not fit this description and that most books do not take such a determined integrated approach. For some students this is an excellent introduction to a very complicated topic. The author suggests that this book could be useful for both undergraduate and graduate students who are being introduced to immunology. Another audience could be medical and dental students who are studying immunology for the first time and need an uncomplicated approach by which they can assimilate a lot of data very quickly. This latter group of students is usually being deluged with a lot of information by different instructors, and a significant number of these neophytes are confused. The author has presented the ""big picture"" for students who may need some extra help in focusing on basic concepts. He is a retired professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This book suggests that he has had considerable experience in teaching. This short book is written as if the author is talking personally to each student. About 80 percent of it is focused on basic immunologicalconcepts. The remaining 20 percent deals with immunopathology. This section provides only a very bare outline of the role of the immune system in disease. There is a glossary of important terms presented in a nontechnical manner. The primary shortcoming is the lack of detail that would make it a suitable text for a basic course in immunology. However, this lack of detail is also its major strength, since it provides a context in which students can add more of the specific details of the immune system after they have become comfortable with the elementary information. There is a lack of textbooks that provide an easily understood overview of the very complicated field of immunology. For those students who are lost in confusing theories and arcane terminology, this book may provide comforting assistance. Students are often unable to articulate their problems with immunological concepts. Although this text does not provide sufficient data for a student to become familiar with many important—and still basic—details, it does provide a starting point for understanding as well as for asking meaningful questions.
From the Publisher
“How the Immune System Works remains uniquely popular for its personable and practical overview of the nuts and bolts of the immune system. This third edition provides a perfect introduction to the essential principles of the immune system, covered in humorous but highly informative 'lectures' accompanied by clear and accessible illustrations. It is perfect for exam preparation or as an enjoyable overview of a difficult subject. Both students and instructors will welcome the clarity and authority that Lauren Sompayrac brings to this timely revision. The conversational writing style makes it seem as though the author is talking to the reader directly. There is no other book currently available quite like this one. Those of our students who have discovered the book have recommended it to others. When completing course evaluations, a substantial number have commented on how helpful it was.” (Doody's Book Reviews, October 2008)
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Marion C. Cohen, PhD (SUNY Downstate Medical Center)
Description: This is the third edition of a textbook of immunology written specifically to describe how the parts of the immune system work together. It is neither a review book nor a classical textbook, but rather it attempts to present the big picture of how the immune system functions with relatively few details that may prove confusing to beginning students. The previous edition was published in 2003.
Purpose: When the first edition of this book was published in 1999, the author's stated goal was to write a book that described the immune system without jargon or details so that students could get the major concepts. This is still the goal and he has achieved it very well. Students often complain that they are presented with too many details and little opportunity to see how they fit together. This book fills their need for a tutor to explain what we currently know in an easy to understand manner.
Audience: Students at just about any level are the intended readers. The author appears to have gained most of his teaching experience with college undergraduates as well as graduate students and he presumably had them in mind when he wrote the first edition. However, medical and dental students would benefit from reading this as well. As an experienced teacher, the author wrote the book to fill a void perceived by many students and he has certainly achieved his goals.
Features: The book covers all of basic immunology with an emphasis on how the normal immune system is organized and functions. The consequences of dysfunction are given less attention, but are not ignored. The conversational writing style makes it seem as though the author is talking to the reader directly. Jargon is an integral part of immunology, but the author attempts to simplify the language whenever possible. Most of the illustrations are in the form of stylized figures with some tables, which, although they are not very colorful, are still easy to follow. There are "thought questions" at the end of each chapter which, if used properly, allow students to determine whether they have really understood the material.
Assessment: There is no other book currently available quite like this one. There are classic textbooks of immunology that are full of information that we wish that all of our students knew. There are review books that reiterate details presented in a way that supposedly is helpful in studying for course exams as wells as NBME exams. This book will be useful to students who are beginning a course in immunology with little or no background in the subject. Those of our students who have discovered the book have recommended it to others. When completing course evaluations, a substantial number have commented on how helpful it was. We now recommend that students read it prior to beginning our lectures on immunology because we cover a lot of material in a brief period, and a great many students have made very positive comments. The author does not claim that it is a complete picture of immunology, but rather that it provides a framework on which to build. Since immunology is an ever-changing subject, a new edition is certainly welcome.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780632047024
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Series: How It Works Ser.
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 8.55 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Sompayrac, Retired Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder
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Table of Contents

How to Use This Book
Pt. 1 The Healthy Immune System
Lecture 1 An Overview 3
Lecture 2 The Innate Immune System 15
Lecture 3 B Cells and Antibodies 27
Lecture 4 The Magic of Antigen Presentation 43
Lecture 5 T Cells and Cytokines 55
Lecture 6 Lymphoid Organs and Lymphocyte Trafficking 71
Lecture 7 Tolerance Induction and MHC Restriction 83
Pt. II The Immune System in Disease
Lecture 8 Immunopathology: The Immune System Gone Wrong 95
Lecture 9 Cancer and the Immune System 109
Glossary 117
Index 121
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I wrote How the Immune System Works because I couldn't find a book that would give my students an overall view of the immune system. Sure, there are as many good, thick textbooks as a person might have money to buy, but these are crammed with every possible detail. There are also lots of 'review books' that are great if you want a summary of what you've already learned -- but they won't teach you immunology. What was missing was a short book that tells, in simple language, how the immune system fits together -- a book that presents the big picture of the immune system without the jargon and the details.

How the Immune System Works is written in the form of 'lectures,' because I want to talk to you directly, just as if we were together in the classroom. This book is short, so you should be able to finish it in a few days. In fact, I strongly suggest that you sit down with this little book and read it from start to finish. The whole idea is to get an overall view of the subject, and if you read one lecture a week, that won't happen. Don't 'study' the book the first time through -- just read it and enjoy. Later you can go back and re-read the appropriate lectures as your immunology course progresses -- to keep you from losing sight of the big picture as the details get filled in.

Although the first lecture is a light-hearted overview meant to give you a running start at the subject, you'll soon discover that this is not 'baby immunology.' How the Immune System Works is a concept-driven analysis of how the immune system players work together to protect us from disease -- and why they do it this way.

In some settings, How the Immune System Works will serve as the main text for the immunology section of a larger course. In a semester-long undergraduate or graduate immunology course, your professor may use this book either as a companion to a detailed text or as the central text, supplemented by additional readings.

No matter how your professor may choose to use this book, however, you should keep one important point in mind: I didn't write How the Immune System Works for your professor. This book's for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2004

    the most beautiful book

    this the most beautiful book that i have ever seen in immunology and most understandable essential text for medical students.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2006


    I must say that I was always very scared of studying Immunology. Although my PhD studies deal with Immunology but the confusing books with those complicated diagrams and charts alwasy irritated and comfused me. I must say that this book 'How the Immune System Works' is an AMAZING book. As a matter of fact, the words AMAZINF, EXCELLENT, PERFECT etc are too small to completely describe what this book really is....You have to read it and then see the difference. I have started to liuke Immunology. To the author, I will only say 'GOD BLESS YOU and THANKS A LOT FOR HELPING US'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2006

    first year med student. EXCELLENT supplemental

    This book is fantastic for the big picture overview. Must Have supplemental in addtion to your lecture notes & text. Good luck with your studies.

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