Montgomery and Biklé argue that when we farm and when we eat, we’re feeding a diverse community of microorganisms. This book is sure to become a game-changing guide to the future of good food and healthy landscapes.
A great read, opening up for nonscientists the microbial world that underlies all life. You will see your body and the world around you in exciting new ways.
An ingenious idea! The Hidden Half of Nature draws a straight line from the microbes that live in healthy soil to those that live in healthy guts, skillfully blending the personal and the scientific. This is a must-read for anyone concerned with their own health.”
Reads like a fast-paced novel but tells the true story of the workings of soils, and even our own bodies.
The Hidden Half of Nature offers a wonderfully fresh and exquisitely informed approach that could change how we relate to ourselves, our diets, our gardens and our world.”
Tim McNulty - Seattle Times
[A] transformative read.
Tom Philpott - Mother Jones
Amazingly detailed and well-researched. … [The Hidden Half of Nature] lays out the beautiful connection between the microbial garden in our bodies and the microbial garden in the Earth.”
Sally Peterson - Oregon Live
One of the year’s best books on gardens and health.
Jim McCausland - Sunset Magazine
[A] beautifully synthesized scientific memoir.
A stunningly clever book that connects the tiny dots of the microbial world. I will never ignore my microbes again.
At the heart of this delightful book lies the simple belief that microbes have “shaped our past and how we treat them will shape our future in ways we are only beginning to understand.” Montgomery (The Rocks Don’t Lie), a MacArthur fellow and University of Washington geologist, and Biklé, an environmental planner, came to this conclusion after purchasing a home in Seattle and trying to plant a garden. The couple’s attempt to rehabilitate desolate soil led them to explore the microenvironment beneath the ground. They discovered just how complex that ecosystem is, and how essential it is for the health and well-being of the larger ecosystems with which people have greater familiarity. The authors’ growing appreciation of the role that soil microorganisms play led them to look into other critical functions that microbes perform. They focus most of their attention on the human gut and the symbiotic relationship humans have with the huge array of organisms living inside them, making the case that plants and humans have much in common. In addition to explaining how to cultivate both soil and intestinal flora, Montgomery and Biklé present an enjoyable summary of the history of microbiology, a thoughtful discussion of immunology, and a survey of agricultural practices. Illus. (Nov.)
Eye opening … A must for all fascinated by the workings of the body and for those concerned with health care and the environment.
Beautifully written and engaging, The Hidden Half of Nature shows us the underlying principle of all life on earththe microbes that live in, on, and around us.”
Montgomery and Biklé give microbes their rightful due as powerful organic machines propelling life into death into life.
[G]enial, erudite and wise. Using their personal story, historical fact and cutting edge science, David Montgomery and Anne Bikle have given us a great gifta deep understanding and appreciation of our relationship with the microbial world. By seeing this invisible world in an entirely new way, as allies, we can move forward in reclaiming the health of our bodies, soil and world by befriending our microbiota. It’s exciting, absolutely necessary, and, now that I have digested this wonderful work, I believe totally possible.
What a friendly and highly readable excursion into the enthralling world of microbes. Through personal experiences and lively historical vignettes, the authors lead us on a delightful journey to discover why microbes are essential for the health of all life formsincluding us.
Geologist Montgomery (geomorphology, Univ. of Washington, Seattle; The Rocks Don't Lie) and biologist Biklé share their personal accounts of transforming their yard into a lush garden after feeding the soil with organic matter. They also write about Biklé's battle with cancer, which propels them deeper into researching microbes. The authors argue that microbes are beneficial and powerful healers that can help infertile crops and battle chronic diseases. Additionally, eating certain foods helps to build healthy microbes. The authors demonstrate that humans and plants have more in common than many realize. A science background is not necessary for readers of this title as the authors do a fine job of explaining scientific terms and processes; they make the material exciting and intimate. VERDICT Recommended for general readers wishing to learn more about gardening, sustainability, and nutrition, as well as students and scholars of geology, microbiology, botany, the history of science, public health, agriculture, and nutrition.—Tina Chan, SUNY Oswego
A geologist and a biologist and environmental planner chronicle the transformation of their desolate Seattle backyard into a fertile garden and how they learned about the importance of beneficial microbes in their newly revived soil. With lively and accessible prose, Montgomery (The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood, 2013, etc.) and Biklé lay the foundation for their narrative with a discussion about microbes: what they are as well as their remarkable adaptability and diversity and the role they play in the natural environment—e.g., making half the world's oxygen. The authors lead readers through an eye-opening history of well-known individuals involved with the fascinating work of ferreting out the mysterious lives of these little critters, such as Louis Pasteur, and many others less well known to the nonscientific community. The authors' blending of science and history, combined with personal insights, keeps the balanced narrative moving at a rapid pace. Montgomery and Biklé also deftly integrate the dark story of American agriculture's co-option by the chemical industry. Attempting to solve the biological problem of low soil fertility with herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, corporations created a cycle of demand requiring farmers use more chemicals. The result has been depleted soil with fewer microbes and an unsustainable food production system. The authors explore the overuse of antibiotics and their effect on the human biome, livestock, and infectious diseases. Biklé describes her bout with cancer and the resulting changes she made to her garden and dietary habits. The authors ably help lay readers knit together the multiple threads of this complex and intriguing story, and a glossary provides a solid a foundation when grappling with unfamiliar terms such as "commensal" or dysbiosis." A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned about their health and the soil under their feet.