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Immune: a Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive

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A gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the immune system that will forever change how you think about your body, from the creator of the popular science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell You wake up and feel a tickle in your throat. Your head hurts. You're mildly annoyed as you get the kids ready for school and dress for work yourself. Meanwhile, an epic war is bein A gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the immune system that will forever change how you think about your body, from the creator of the popular science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell You wake up and feel a tickle in your throat. Your head hurts. You're mildly annoyed as you get the kids ready for school and dress for work yourself. Meanwhile, an epic war is being fought, just below your skin. Millions are fighting and dying for you to be able to complain as you head out the door. So what, exactly, is your immune system? Second only to the human brain in its complexity, it is one of the oldest and most critical facets of life on Earth. Without it, you would die within days. In Immune, Philipp Dettmer, the brains behind the most popular science channel on YouTube, takes readers on a journey through the fortress of the human body and its defenses. There is a constant battle of staggering scale raging within us, full of stories of invasion, strategy, defeat, and noble self-sacrifice. In fact, in the time you've been reading this, your immune system has probably identified and eradicated a cancer cell that started to grow in your body. Each chapter delves into an element of the immune system, including defenses like antibodies and inflammation as well as threats like bacteria, allergies, and cancer, as Dettmer reveals why boosting your immune system is actually nonsense, how parasites sneak their way past your body's defenses, how viruses work, and what goes on in your wounds when you cut yourself. Enlivened by engaging graphics and immersive descriptions, Immune turns one of the most intricate, interconnected, and confusing subjects—immunology—into a gripping adventure through an astonishing alien landscape. Immune is a vital and remarkably fun crash course in what is arguably, and increasingly, the most important system in the body.


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A gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the immune system that will forever change how you think about your body, from the creator of the popular science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell You wake up and feel a tickle in your throat. Your head hurts. You're mildly annoyed as you get the kids ready for school and dress for work yourself. Meanwhile, an epic war is bein A gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the immune system that will forever change how you think about your body, from the creator of the popular science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell You wake up and feel a tickle in your throat. Your head hurts. You're mildly annoyed as you get the kids ready for school and dress for work yourself. Meanwhile, an epic war is being fought, just below your skin. Millions are fighting and dying for you to be able to complain as you head out the door. So what, exactly, is your immune system? Second only to the human brain in its complexity, it is one of the oldest and most critical facets of life on Earth. Without it, you would die within days. In Immune, Philipp Dettmer, the brains behind the most popular science channel on YouTube, takes readers on a journey through the fortress of the human body and its defenses. There is a constant battle of staggering scale raging within us, full of stories of invasion, strategy, defeat, and noble self-sacrifice. In fact, in the time you've been reading this, your immune system has probably identified and eradicated a cancer cell that started to grow in your body. Each chapter delves into an element of the immune system, including defenses like antibodies and inflammation as well as threats like bacteria, allergies, and cancer, as Dettmer reveals why boosting your immune system is actually nonsense, how parasites sneak their way past your body's defenses, how viruses work, and what goes on in your wounds when you cut yourself. Enlivened by engaging graphics and immersive descriptions, Immune turns one of the most intricate, interconnected, and confusing subjects—immunology—into a gripping adventure through an astonishing alien landscape. Immune is a vital and remarkably fun crash course in what is arguably, and increasingly, the most important system in the body.

30 review for Immune: a Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra X is going to Mexico

    Update A 10 star read. I have learned a lot. Measles are not what they seem, the idea of boosting the immune system is a scam at best, a very, very bad idea at worst (even if you have the knowledge how to), and what works to stay healthy and what doesn't (positive attitude is not necessarily good advice) and the not very beneficial side effects of a Caesarean birth. The book is 10 star brilliant and I understand at least 75% of it on first rereading including rereading paragraphs endlessly. I ha Update A 10 star read. I have learned a lot. Measles are not what they seem, the idea of boosting the immune system is a scam at best, a very, very bad idea at worst (even if you have the knowledge how to), and what works to stay healthy and what doesn't (positive attitude is not necessarily good advice) and the not very beneficial side effects of a Caesarean birth. The book is 10 star brilliant and I understand at least 75% of it on first rereading including rereading paragraphs endlessly. I have to write a proper review so I can remember these things myself and pass on the best of what I've learned. __________ I always thought i knew about the immune system - white cells, T cells, the spleen, bone marrow, lymph.... That's like saying I thought I knew all about car engines because I know where the dipsticks for their 'bodily' fluids are and can pump up the tyres. This book is so complex, I have been reading and rereading for the last week. One thing I have learned is if I have a fever and do not need to control it for any reason (like work or going to store with a (Covid) temperature detector) I will never again take acetaminophen to control it. A raised temperature makes viruses very unhappy, they prefer to infect and replicate (millions per hour) at a normal temperature; the whole of the immune system revs into high gear with a high temperature and a minor benefit - you burn up more calories :-) I also for the first time heard of the complement system, a complex immune system of more than 30 different proteins, that is not part of the immune system that I thought I knew about. This book is absolutely excellent, heading for a 10-star.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott Carney

    FIRST THE GOOD: This is the simplest explanation of the immune system that I've ever come across that doesn't gloss over the startling complexity of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Dettmer uses simple metaphors to visually explain impenetrable terminology so that even a lay person can understand what is happening. MHC Class II receptors are hotdog buns, antigens are hotdogs, MHC Class I molecules are portholes into the cellular machinery. These simple visualizations really help, as do FIRST THE GOOD: This is the simplest explanation of the immune system that I've ever come across that doesn't gloss over the startling complexity of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Dettmer uses simple metaphors to visually explain impenetrable terminology so that even a lay person can understand what is happening. MHC Class II receptors are hotdog buns, antigens are hotdogs, MHC Class I molecules are portholes into the cellular machinery. These simple visualizations really help, as do the illustrations that pull from the brilliance of the Kurgzesagt channel. I also loved the footnotes that delve into fascinating asides and yet keep the overall story (can you call it a story?) on track. THE LESS THAN GOOD: Once Dettmer was done explaining the immune pathways--about three quarters of the way through--some of his takeaways start to lose focus. This is because his intensely reductionist lens that focuses primarily on pathways, has trouble taking in the big picture. It's not exactly Dettmer's fault--this is the way that every immunology textbook and class I've come across also treats the topic. But it leads to a really strange cyclical logic. For instance: throughout the book he writes that the immune system is absolutely not conscious--and that immune cells are basically mindless robots whose amazing adaptive properties emerge out of mechanical complexity. And yet he (and every immunologist I've met) can't resist anthropomorphizing cellular action--by calling macrophages angry, having one cell tell another to do something, communication across the system, recognizing self and other, and a hundred other examples. Somehow cells "make decisions" and also are "mindless robots". In this framing, the adaptive and innate immune system is just an assemblage of parts, which I think misses the point that it's all connected to an unarguably conscious human. Just because we (sort of) understand how those parts fit together doesn't mean that absolute reductionism is the only way to understand it--indeed, as he demonstrates, we don't even have the language to discuss how an unconscious immune system functions. This becomes problematic when he begins to scale up to takeaways. For instance, the book takes casual aim at the wellness industry by suggesting the very idea of "boosting" the immune system is on its face nonsensical and even dangerous. Then, on the very next page (p281 para 3) he writes "working out also directly boosts your immune system", contradicting the thesis of the chapter. Then he says diet doesn't really matter as long as you eat sensibly. But what sensible eating means is lost in a casual wave of the hand. His point does stand that there are a lot of people who take advantage of scientific sounding language to sell products, but that really requires a medical anthropological lens more than the tight focus on receptor chains. In the section on "Stress and the Immune System" he makes another major error. He correctly notes that stress suppresses the immune system, and how we got here evolutionarily, but then makes a totally crazy statement that the best way to counteract that effect is to further reduce external stress. So instead of building resilience by exposing yourself to physical stress so that your immune system doesn't react to it so strongly, the suggestion is to further retreat from the world so that when some external force does act on the body you're not ready for it. IN A NUTSHELL: Overall this book is excellent. I'd recommend it to absolutely anyone who wants to try to understand all the moving parts of the universe inside your body that keeps you alive. The takeaways should be taken with a pinch of salt. WHY ONE STAR?: Simply because you, dear review reader, probably sort by one star reviews to see the worst criticism and that's a little unfair. Five star reviews are often too enthusiastic to be taken seriously, and one star reviews are usually too angry to be useful. He already had more than enough 5 star reviews to have a nice rating overall and I wanted this review to be useful. In truth, this is a very good book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allyson Dyar

    When it comes to books on medical subjects, I tend to be a snob. Consequently, it is rare that I will give a medical book a five star rating (last one was Emperor of All Maladies) but this book deserves it. To say that I loved this book is an understatement. Immunity is a very complicated subject because this is the human body we are talking about and our immunity system has to protect us against all invaders. To do so, our body has evolved a very complex system of ways to defend our bodies and t When it comes to books on medical subjects, I tend to be a snob. Consequently, it is rare that I will give a medical book a five star rating (last one was Emperor of All Maladies) but this book deserves it. To say that I loved this book is an understatement. Immunity is a very complicated subject because this is the human body we are talking about and our immunity system has to protect us against all invaders. To do so, our body has evolved a very complex system of ways to defend our bodies and trying to decipher it can be a daunting process. I’ve tried over the last few months to learn the complexities of the immunity system but every time I thought I understood it, I’d read more into the subject and become confused all over again. Author Philipp Dettmer has not only managed to explain human immunity but makes it fun. So many science authors take their subjects very seriously – which they should – but there is nothing wrong than having fun with the subject and Philipp has a ton of fun. This book is for those who are interested in the subject but don’t know where to start as well as those seasoned veterans who are interested in a fun read. I cannot recommend this book any higher. [Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the advanced ebook copy in exchange for my honest and objective opinion which I have given here.]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Left Coast Justin

    High literature this ain't, but it is a really well-written introduction to the mind-numbing complexity of the immune system (or systems, really). Back before COVID, I was spending several weeks a year in China, and spent some time looking for a tutor to help me learn the basics of the language. The first couple of tutors I worked with would talk about how hard it is to learn Mandarin, how Westerners would really struggle with it, and then they'd throw a sentence at me with lots of qi's, xi's and High literature this ain't, but it is a really well-written introduction to the mind-numbing complexity of the immune system (or systems, really). Back before COVID, I was spending several weeks a year in China, and spent some time looking for a tutor to help me learn the basics of the language. The first couple of tutors I worked with would talk about how hard it is to learn Mandarin, how Westerners would really struggle with it, and then they'd throw a sentence at me with lots of qi's, xi's and shi's, rising and falling tones, and laugh at my feeble attempts to repeat it back. "So what does that sentence actually mean, anyway?" I'd ask. "Oh, something like 'purple cassowary chase in-law from Jupiter airport,'" they responded. In other words, they had no interest in actually teaching me the language, only in demonstrating their greater knowledge. Which, duh. Dettmer, in contrast, really wants you to learn this stuff, and bends over backwards to make sure you're solidly grounded in one topic before moving on to the next. We start with the least-complicated invaders (bacteria) and gradually work our way up through viruses to parasites. At the end, there's a short section on internal problems, meaning autoimmune diseases and cancer. This is the first treatment of the subject I've read that didn't leave me thoroughly bewildered. I really appreciate his approach, which includes lots of circling back and reinforcing what we've already learned. And while he acknowledges that the reality is much more complex than what he's presenting, I was grateful for the high-level overview that didn't get bogged down in all thirty-two different classes of major histocompatibility complex molecules, for example. Some readers will be turned off by the anthropomorphizing of cells and molecules, but I felt it was never a product of sloppiness but rather again in the service of teaching. It is much easier for laypeople to understand "the B cell wants to know what's going on inside an infected cell" than "transferase pathway mediated by globin 4Dtr4a results in morphological changes to receptor BSA-42 with resultant shifts in..." (view spoiler)[I acknowledge to any real immunologists that the preceding sounds a whole lot like, "purple cassowary chase in-laws..." (hide spoiler)] With this book behind me, I feel I'm much better able to understand the torrent of information occasionally aimed in my direction, and much better able to explain to people why "boosting your immune system" is not only completely impractical but also a really, really bad idea. (Shocking surprise ending: The best way to ensure your health is avoid tobacco, eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Never saw that coming...) Thanks to Petra for the tip-off on this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    The immune system is unfathomably complex, but Philipp Dettmer made it a delight to learn about. Just like the Kurzgesagt videos, this book uses colorful art, clear explanations, enchanting metaphors, and a dash of wit to express the elaborate, beautiful symphony of the immune system. The stories and compelling metaphors from this book stayed in my mind long after I put the book down. I especially love the image of the dendritic cells carrying a bunch of hot dogs (in buns!) to a singles bar to tr The immune system is unfathomably complex, but Philipp Dettmer made it a delight to learn about. Just like the Kurzgesagt videos, this book uses colorful art, clear explanations, enchanting metaphors, and a dash of wit to express the elaborate, beautiful symphony of the immune system. The stories and compelling metaphors from this book stayed in my mind long after I put the book down. I especially love the image of the dendritic cells carrying a bunch of hot dogs (in buns!) to a singles bar to try to pick up some helper T cells. Somehow this all makes sense in this weird, wonderful book that made me so grateful for my perfectly balanced, intricate immune system. The body is truly amazing. This book captured my imagination, and I hope Dettmer writes more books like this in the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bonny

    I've tried to keep my collection of "real books" under control, only buying those that I really want to re-read or are special enough to have a copy at hand. Immune is one of those special books. I was thrilled to be the first person to check out the library copy, and delighted to find that it was a "Goldilocks" sort of book for me. Philipp Dettmer has written this with just the right amount of information - not too much to overwhelm and not too little to dumb down the complex immune system. I h I've tried to keep my collection of "real books" under control, only buying those that I really want to re-read or are special enough to have a copy at hand. Immune is one of those special books. I was thrilled to be the first person to check out the library copy, and delighted to find that it was a "Goldilocks" sort of book for me. Philipp Dettmer has written this with just the right amount of information - not too much to overwhelm and not too little to dumb down the complex immune system. I had a graduate course in immunology decades ago, but this is one of those subjects that has changed and been added to quite a bit in the intervening time. This is a brilliant book for explaining how the immune system works, how vaccines work, what happens when the immune system becomes too active, and so much more information that we all need to understand. The brilliant writing (with memorable metaphors) and colorful illustrations make this book a joy to read, and highly recommended for all adult humans. I was not familiar with the author's Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) youtube channel, but I've spent loads of time watching it this evening.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rennie

    Way too much of this still went over my head anyway - in that way where you’re reading the words and understanding them but not grasping the concept. Still! That’s not actually his fault, as he’s one of the best science communicators I think I’ve ever read. I was happy to take from it whatever I could (and pleased at the amount of cell stuff that actually came back to me from high school biology). I also didn’t expect to be laughing out loud several times while reading this book, but there you go Way too much of this still went over my head anyway - in that way where you’re reading the words and understanding them but not grasping the concept. Still! That’s not actually his fault, as he’s one of the best science communicators I think I’ve ever read. I was happy to take from it whatever I could (and pleased at the amount of cell stuff that actually came back to me from high school biology). I also didn’t expect to be laughing out loud several times while reading this book, but there you go. It’s pretty wondrous.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stetson

    Our current circumstances have dramatically increased the salience of knowledge about the immune system. This, of course, was the case before our interminable once-in-a-century (hopefully) black swan event that is the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, but immunology tends to understandably be an esoteric and intimidating subject to many. Philipp Dettmer performs the yeomen's work of decoding the complexity of the immune systems, providing an eminently clear and accessible primer. Immune roughly provides under Our current circumstances have dramatically increased the salience of knowledge about the immune system. This, of course, was the case before our interminable once-in-a-century (hopefully) black swan event that is the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, but immunology tends to understandably be an esoteric and intimidating subject to many. Philipp Dettmer performs the yeomen's work of decoding the complexity of the immune systems, providing an eminently clear and accessible primer. Immune roughly provides undergraduate-level coverage of the immune system and appears to be the premier popular entry into this field (from a non-scientist too).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dallin Diehl

    I’m glad I read this book! I’m sure the little details will fade with time, but having a basic understanding of the human immune system feels empowering. Understanding what’s happening when I cut my finger, feel feverish from a cold, get a zit, etc. is not only really cool, it makes me appreciate so much more how amazing my body is. Philipp is a fantastic communicator and made incredibly complex things easy and enjoyable to read. This is a book I would freely recommend to anyone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kshitij Dewan

    a beautifully illustrated glimpse of another layer of reality I LOVED this book. Easily my favourite this year. It filled so many "didn't know I didn't know" gaps. below are review notes from while I read: I really like how encouraging the writing is. I feel happy to read more. The frequent summaries and metaphors really help make sense of the concepts I also really like how the footnotes are presented, that they're formatted so I don't lose my place. Really nice touch. I was mildly annoyed at the la a beautifully illustrated glimpse of another layer of reality I LOVED this book. Easily my favourite this year. It filled so many "didn't know I didn't know" gaps. below are review notes from while I read: I really like how encouraging the writing is. I feel happy to read more. The frequent summaries and metaphors really help make sense of the concepts I also really like how the footnotes are presented, that they're formatted so I don't lose my place. Really nice touch. I was mildly annoyed at the lack of references and in-text citations but there's an online bibliography and reference list - http://kurzgesagt.org/immune-book-sou... Main takeaways - T-cells are Thymus Cells and B-cells are Bone marrow Cells :-) Also, neutrophils are what makes my mucus green and I should expel snot often. Also TGN1412! Wow! there's a brief chapter on how stress impacts immunity - I recommend Robert Sapolsky's Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...) for great further reading on this Also a brief chapter on COVID! and cytokine storms, and blood clots, and why it affects some more than others Great book - Highly recommend

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aidan Garcia

    I am on my knees in awe of the power, intricacy, and glorious dance that is the immune system. I am now informed and very aware of the life and death war that my body wages at every moment. I got a paper-cut a day ago and instantly though of my macrophages and neutrophils getting in there and making short work of those invaders. Thank you for this incredible journey. I want to learn more. I am hungry for knowledge! My personal favourite? The dendritic cell. If you don’t have a favourite, don’t talk I am on my knees in awe of the power, intricacy, and glorious dance that is the immune system. I am now informed and very aware of the life and death war that my body wages at every moment. I got a paper-cut a day ago and instantly though of my macrophages and neutrophils getting in there and making short work of those invaders. Thank you for this incredible journey. I want to learn more. I am hungry for knowledge! My personal favourite? The dendritic cell. If you don’t have a favourite, don’t talk to me :) Side Note: Take a shot every time a cell commits apoptosis. (If you know you know)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam K

    4.5 stars rounded up to 5 This book is an excellent introduction to all of the complexities and fascinating mechanisms of the immune system. The tone is very casual and conversational, and I think Dettmer does a good job of simplifying incredibly complicated concepts into easy-to-understand analogies or explanations that could even work for a high school-level reader. The jokes are sometimes a bit silly, and perhaps even a little juvenile at times, but the educational value is certainly there and 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 This book is an excellent introduction to all of the complexities and fascinating mechanisms of the immune system. The tone is very casual and conversational, and I think Dettmer does a good job of simplifying incredibly complicated concepts into easy-to-understand analogies or explanations that could even work for a high school-level reader. The jokes are sometimes a bit silly, and perhaps even a little juvenile at times, but the educational value is certainly there and, as such, I think the book accomplished what it set out to do. The illustrations are great and, though it could certainly have used more of them, most of them did help to clarify parts of the text. And even though I felt he complained about the nomenclature in the field of immunology a little too much, you could really get a sense of the passion and excitement that Dettmer has for the topic. The immune system is something that everyone could probably benefit from knowing more about, and I think this book could be a great place to start.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Lau

    Amazing book! An accessible, yet still sophisticated overview of our immune system, with some really beautiful and humorous illustrations. I borrowed this from the library, but would consider buying it to flip through again and again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thompson

    On my personal Goldilocks scale of popular science books, this one rated as a Mama Bear. It was too soft. Mr. Dettmer, who is not a scientist, calls himself a science communicator. He's here to dumb it down for us so that anyone can understand the material without having to strain their poor little brains. It's not really that bad though. It's a pretty book and there were a few things that I learned that I didn't know, but the relentlessly popularizing tone made me a little crazy. If I want this On my personal Goldilocks scale of popular science books, this one rated as a Mama Bear. It was too soft. Mr. Dettmer, who is not a scientist, calls himself a science communicator. He's here to dumb it down for us so that anyone can understand the material without having to strain their poor little brains. It's not really that bad though. It's a pretty book and there were a few things that I learned that I didn't know, but the relentlessly popularizing tone made me a little crazy. If I want this kind of presentation, I'd rather get it in 1080p on The Discovery Channel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Excellent book for the layperson and/or those with autoimmune diseases who have more questions than the medical profession has time to answer. This is a book worth purchasing for the home library if your specialists do not answer questions well. Phillipp Dettmer has written a user-friendly textbook with charts for the reader. All helpful and easy to understand. Highly recommend this helpful book. PS: Fortunately, my specialists have taken the time for explain everything concerning my several auto Excellent book for the layperson and/or those with autoimmune diseases who have more questions than the medical profession has time to answer. This is a book worth purchasing for the home library if your specialists do not answer questions well. Phillipp Dettmer has written a user-friendly textbook with charts for the reader. All helpful and easy to understand. Highly recommend this helpful book. PS: Fortunately, my specialists have taken the time for explain everything concerning my several autoimmune illnesses (one since birth) and various other health problems. I'm now 73. Seldom do questions arise, but I'm certainly in the minority and feel very fortunate for have chosen wisely when searching for the best medical help, which has been a process in itself. Don't "settle" for the first physician or specialist. You must be comfortable and able to build a relationship of trust in order to plan your strategies together as a team for your best health! Buy this book to help educate and become a better health advocate for yourself and loved ones. It's that good!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luke Spooner

    This book does a good job of explaining a complicated subject in an accessible, entertaining way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Martina Bandzo

    wow, a nonfiction that didn't make me wanna end myself! cool graphics and complex systems explained clearly with a charming touch of humor and sassy footnotes wow, a nonfiction that didn't make me wanna end myself! cool graphics and complex systems explained clearly with a charming touch of humor and sassy footnotes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexandru Tudorica

    A basic introduction in the hypercomplex world of the immune system. Although it's filled with obnoxious metaphors (stand ready for antigen butts and cell wieners), it's giving a nice overview of the main processes and cells of our immune system. I would rate it 4/5, but due to its scope and target audience, I'll give it full marks. Ah, plus talking about the antivaxxers or anecdoes from the people who say: "oh, I never get sick, I'm having such a strong immune system". A basic introduction in the hypercomplex world of the immune system. Although it's filled with obnoxious metaphors (stand ready for antigen butts and cell wieners), it's giving a nice overview of the main processes and cells of our immune system. I would rate it 4/5, but due to its scope and target audience, I'll give it full marks. Ah, plus talking about the antivaxxers or anecdoes from the people who say: "oh, I never get sick, I'm having such a strong immune system".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I found that this book explored the intricacies of the immune system in a fun and engaging way with a surprising amount of depth yet is explained simply with analogies and beautiful illustrations. Reading this has given me a profound appreciation of the complicated yet elegant immune system that keeps us alive everyday. "You get a taste of what is means to stay alive in a world that is a struggle between different forces that do not care about how you feel about them." I found that this book explored the intricacies of the immune system in a fun and engaging way with a surprising amount of depth yet is explained simply with analogies and beautiful illustrations. Reading this has given me a profound appreciation of the complicated yet elegant immune system that keeps us alive everyday. "You get a taste of what is means to stay alive in a world that is a struggle between different forces that do not care about how you feel about them."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Francis Rafal

    What an amazing book. I am in awe of everything that‘s happening inside my body. If you wanna learn to appreciate the daily battle of life and death in your body, this is the book to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Jose

    If you've seen Kurzgesagt on YouTube, you know Philip is really good at taking hard scientific problems and simplifying it for the masses. He has a unique storytelling style that keeps audiences engaged with humor. He isnt afraid of anthropomorphism when needed, but is aware of what he's doing. This book is all that and much more. He speaks directly to the reader/listener with this book, and Steve Taylor's voice - the same narrator of his YouTube videos - provides a sense of familiarity right fr If you've seen Kurzgesagt on YouTube, you know Philip is really good at taking hard scientific problems and simplifying it for the masses. He has a unique storytelling style that keeps audiences engaged with humor. He isnt afraid of anthropomorphism when needed, but is aware of what he's doing. This book is all that and much more. He speaks directly to the reader/listener with this book, and Steve Taylor's voice - the same narrator of his YouTube videos - provides a sense of familiarity right from the get go, if you're listening to the audiobook. The book is filled with details, and I learned so much about a system that is crucial to our survival and existence. Philip is careful not to bore readers/listeres with technical jargon, so when he introduces technical names, he jokes about how absurd some of those are. He takes the liberty to substitue molecules with real life objects (there's a section with hotdog buns and weiners) which makes it super easy for a casual reader/listener to follow along. With the COVID-19 pandemic, so much of immunology has been part of regular discourse, so it is very lucky that Philip decided to talk about this. I'm no doubt that this book will go onto become of the classics of biology/medicine similar to Emperor of Maladies (cancer).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ayelet

    I learned so much!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Can’t wait for this—should be amazing!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nick Cummings

    I think the last time I read a book that talked about cells in human bodies, I was 15 and cramming for my high school Biology final. And other than the occasional stray science meme finding its way into my too-online life, I mostly stayed ignorant to the inner workings of my body for a long time. Two decades have passed since then and, to put it mildly, I spend an awful lot more time now thinking about my body broadly and my immune system specifically. The main reason there is pretty obvious — we I think the last time I read a book that talked about cells in human bodies, I was 15 and cramming for my high school Biology final. And other than the occasional stray science meme finding its way into my too-online life, I mostly stayed ignorant to the inner workings of my body for a long time. Two decades have passed since then and, to put it mildly, I spend an awful lot more time now thinking about my body broadly and my immune system specifically. The main reason there is pretty obvious — we’re entering Year Two of a gosh-dang pandemic, wouldn’t you know — but there are some longer-term changes in my thinking coming home to roost. Simply put: I am getting older, and my aging body behaves differently now than it used to as a stressed-out, test-prepping teenager. I found myself eager to understand my own microbiology and how the processes of the immune system — a system whose maintenance I used to think started and ended with “just take vitamin C and cover your face when you sneeze and you’re golden” — actually operated in the real world, and particularly during the birth of a novel coronavirus throughout the planet. What Philipp Dettmer has done here is something really wonderful: he managed to teach me a lot of new concepts in a relatively short amount of time, and thanks to his excellent (and memorably humorous) metaphors, the relationships between each of the many different cells and proteins managed to stick with me. I’m really glad this book exists and that I found it; it helped demystify so much of what happens in my body that I used to just shrug off and not think too deeply about. The immune system is legit fascinating, and I hope this marks the beginning, not the end, of my study into it. I loved the pacing of this book. There are dozens of chapters, ensuring each tackles one or two discrete topics in full without getting too lost in the weeds, and the broader structure linking them together is also quite sound. The illustrations are done in the trademark Kurzgesagt style; they are all very clear and intuitive, and they complement the topics being discussed very well. (I would’ve loved to see some smaller, iterative illustrations in-line and tightly woven with the text to help spell out complex processes more clearly, but the full-page illustrations are undeniably lovely to look at and each succeeds at communicating its subject well.) The reason I landed on four stars and not five boils down to this: I found the prose to be pretty uneven throughout the book, and a few times it left me feeling uncertain about the quality of the arguments being made. It wasn’t poorly written so much as I think it would’ve benefited from a little more consistent editing; for example, sometimes the tone would catch me off-guard and I wasn’t sure I was interpreting a sentence as intended. I would still heartily recommend this book as a primer on the immune system (and for that matter, I heartily recommend the Kurzgesagt YouTube channel!) but it may be helpful to go in expecting a few incomplete sentences and eyebrow-raising descriptions. Overall, this was a great book; I’m so glad I picked it up, and I learned so much from it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Murphy

    Amazingly well done. Contains the basics that anyone who wishes to comment on illness or immunity should know, and in a digestible package. Especially good for those relatives and acquaintances whose actions in the 2020-202X timespan prove that they do not yet understand much about the human defense systems. Offering them this knowledge is the best you can do for them. If you are trying to remember info you once beheld in old school courses, or if you are simply hoping to pick up a few basics of Amazingly well done. Contains the basics that anyone who wishes to comment on illness or immunity should know, and in a digestible package. Especially good for those relatives and acquaintances whose actions in the 2020-202X timespan prove that they do not yet understand much about the human defense systems. Offering them this knowledge is the best you can do for them. If you are trying to remember info you once beheld in old school courses, or if you are simply hoping to pick up a few basics of the immune system, this book will help you in a way that draws in the interest and avoids the dry and toneless voice of most textbooks. Also very helpful for teachers looking to come up with new but clear analogies - we tend to get stuck in a rut on such things, but a book like this gives us new ones or inspires our own ideas for them. Topics: The body's major defenses against disease, the different sorts of immune cells (their jobs, activation sequences, and progression), how viruses vs. bacteria vs. parasites infect and are countered, how vaccines work, what we know about allergies, our limited ability to change or strengthen the immune system, and more... The book contains, of course, many simplifications. This is normal and natural. The author's tone can sometimes be a little, hmmm.....foppish? They have an infectious enthusiasm, that certain people will find a little overworn by the later chapters - though if you know the Kurzgesagt videos and imagine the book narrated by their main voice, you will probably have no such issue. And even if you do, just set it down for a time, then return. A slight over-enthusiasm is better than dry and dusty tomes for me at least. There are a number of topics, especially near the end, where a lot of the questions that the author rhetorically poses for themselves cannot be answered, at least beyond a simple holding pattern for the moment. This is the nature of science, and will annoy some people - but clearly stating the limits of what we do not yet know, and what we only suspect, is extremely important. It is something that more people could learn from - too much of the time people want to believe answers are easy, and this makes us believe all kinds of misled thinking, as well as full-on snakeoil BS. But importantly, the author makes very clear what we do not know, and how many popularized ideas claim to somehow bridge those gaps - thus showing themselves to be unproven at best, purposefully misleading and dangerous at worst.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I loved this book! During the pandemic, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Naturally I became very interested in learning about the human body, my condition specifically, and how disease and illness happen. I knew about antibodies and autoantibodies from reading articles about COVID and my own health situation, but I didn't really know much about the immune system beyond that. This book was simply excellent. It provided a great high level overview of the various immune cells, what they d I loved this book! During the pandemic, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Naturally I became very interested in learning about the human body, my condition specifically, and how disease and illness happen. I knew about antibodies and autoantibodies from reading articles about COVID and my own health situation, but I didn't really know much about the immune system beyond that. This book was simply excellent. It provided a great high level overview of the various immune cells, what they do, and how they interact with each other and pathogens. The book wasn't dry like a textbook. It was written with more of a storytelling tone while still providing scientific explanations on the different components of the immune system. There was also a lot of humor thrown in and I frequently found myself chuckling. Most of the book is about the various immune cells and what happens when they encounter bacteria or viruses. Once all the cells have been discussed, the remainder of the book covers additional topics like allergies, autoimmune diseases, cancer, vaccines, specific illnesses like measles and HIV/AIDS, and how stress and the environment impact the immune system. Those topics were easy to understand and appreciate after learning about the immune system players. I learned a lot from this book! I have a much better understanding of the immune system. And as a patient, I thought it was actually really cool to be able to look back at some of my past bloodwork and finally know what my doctor was checking. This is definitely a book that I will reference in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm actually kind of sad I finished it because it was that good. If you're interested in learning about the immune system, but you don't have a scientific background (or even if you do!) this would be a great book for you!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    "Immune" explains how the different parts of the innate and adaptive immune systems work. This was written by a science writer rather than someone who actively studies the immune system, so it's written for the average person. He used memorable analogies to explain what goes on, then explained it in "science talk" and finally summarized it all again to make sure the reader understood. I have some science background, and I thought the author did a good job of explaining this complex subject witho "Immune" explains how the different parts of the innate and adaptive immune systems work. This was written by a science writer rather than someone who actively studies the immune system, so it's written for the average person. He used memorable analogies to explain what goes on, then explained it in "science talk" and finally summarized it all again to make sure the reader understood. I have some science background, and I thought the author did a good job of explaining this complex subject without simplifying to much. (His chapter on the lymph system included more information than a whole book on lymph that I recently read. It wasn't more difficult to understand, just more thorough.) The author started by speculating about when the various parts of the immune system evolved. Throughout the book, he marveled at the complex, amazing immune system and how it evolved. He next talked about how the skin protects you and how the innate and adaptive immune system react when you're wounded. He then talked about mucus membranes and explained how the immune system fights a viral (flu) infection starting in your nose. He explained the individual parts of your immune defenses and how they work together. He also talked about allergies, autoimmunity, cancer, and how you don't actually want to boost your immune system (you want it in balance) and things you can do to support proper immune function (quit smoking and reduce stress). There were occasional graphics showing parts of the immune system or how it worked, but they're difficult to read on my Kindle. Overall, I'd recommend this informative, easy to follow book. I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Wonderful book - this was recommended by a friend and it was such a great, comprehensive overview of our immune system. It covers the functioning of our innate and adaptive immune system, and answers all sorts of common questions about the immune system, ranging from inflammation, to autoimmune disease, to cancer, to allergies. I can't believe how much was covered in a little over 300 pages. But more than just the content covered, the way Dettmer writes about complex scientific topics is amazing. Wonderful book - this was recommended by a friend and it was such a great, comprehensive overview of our immune system. It covers the functioning of our innate and adaptive immune system, and answers all sorts of common questions about the immune system, ranging from inflammation, to autoimmune disease, to cancer, to allergies. I can't believe how much was covered in a little over 300 pages. But more than just the content covered, the way Dettmer writes about complex scientific topics is amazing. This book is riddled with analogies that are super effective in conveying details, and there's such a good sense of where information needs to be reiterated. I also normally don't like patronizing content, but Dettmer was very kind with the reader and constantly mentioned that the material was complicated and probably difficult to grasp first read around. I think his overall charitability to people who have misconceptions about the immune system made me feel much more inclined to trust him in other direct appeals to the reader. Anyway, I'm certainly going to be gifting this to a lot of people and re-reading myself. Learned a lot so can't complain!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    Overall a very informative and approachable book for such a mindblowingly complex subject. The text is easily digestible and engaging in the Kurzgesagt style I’ve come to know and love. There are a lot of analogies to illustrate scale or purpose of certain immune cell features which I found tremendously useful. And those beautiful graphics throughout the book really help visualize what our microscopic helpers look like and what they do. However these immune cells are heavily anthropomorphized whi Overall a very informative and approachable book for such a mindblowingly complex subject. The text is easily digestible and engaging in the Kurzgesagt style I’ve come to know and love. There are a lot of analogies to illustrate scale or purpose of certain immune cell features which I found tremendously useful. And those beautiful graphics throughout the book really help visualize what our microscopic helpers look like and what they do. However these immune cells are heavily anthropomorphized which I don’t like seeing too much with scientific subjects, but I understand that to not do so would make the book much less approachable. I still highly recommend this for those looking to get a solid understanding of this system that keeps you alive.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chintan Sheth

    This book is the epitome of communicating science to the masses. It brings to the front the elegant chaos of our body and immune system and makes you wonder like a kid for this random existence and sillyness of it. All this while sticking to science and facts. In today's age of disinformation and distractions, such content is the need of the hour and Philipp has nailed that perfectly. Kurzgesagt team in general has immensely impacted my life for many years now, even with their simplified short ( This book is the epitome of communicating science to the masses. It brings to the front the elegant chaos of our body and immune system and makes you wonder like a kid for this random existence and sillyness of it. All this while sticking to science and facts. In today's age of disinformation and distractions, such content is the need of the hour and Philipp has nailed that perfectly. Kurzgesagt team in general has immensely impacted my life for many years now, even with their simplified short (and sometimes silly) videos they have sparked curiosity amongst millions to study science and understand the world around us much more deeply and ponder about the possibilities future holds. Thank you for writing this.

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