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Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens

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Award-winning Boston University educator and researcher Muhammad H. Zaman provides a chilling look at the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, explaining how we got here and what we must do to address this growing global health crisis. In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every anti Award-winning Boston University educator and researcher Muhammad H. Zaman provides a chilling look at the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, explaining how we got here and what we must do to address this growing global health crisis. In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious disease doctors and public health professionals. While bacteria live within us and are essential for our health, some strains can kill us. As bacteria continue to mutate, becoming increasingly resistant to known antibiotics, we are likely to face a public health crisis of unimaginable proportions. “It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,” Muhammad H. Zaman warns. The Biography of Resistance is Zaman’s riveting and timely look at why and how microbes are becoming superbugs. It is a story of science and evolution that looks to history, culture, attitudes and our own individual choices and collective human behavior. Following the trail of resistant bacteria from previously uncontacted tribes in the Amazon to the isolated islands in the Arctic, from the urban slums of Karachi to the wilderness of the Australian outback, Zaman examines the myriad factors contributing to this unfolding health crisis—including war, greed, natural disasters, and germophobia—to the culprits driving it: pharmaceutical companies, farmers, industrialists, doctors, governments, and ordinary people, all whose choices are pushing us closer to catastrophe. Joining the ranks of acclaimed works like Microbe Hunters, The Emperor of All Maladies, and Spillover, A Biography of Resistance is a riveting and chilling tale from a natural storyteller on the front lines, and a clarion call to address the biggest public health threat of our time.


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Award-winning Boston University educator and researcher Muhammad H. Zaman provides a chilling look at the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, explaining how we got here and what we must do to address this growing global health crisis. In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every anti Award-winning Boston University educator and researcher Muhammad H. Zaman provides a chilling look at the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, explaining how we got here and what we must do to address this growing global health crisis. In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious disease doctors and public health professionals. While bacteria live within us and are essential for our health, some strains can kill us. As bacteria continue to mutate, becoming increasingly resistant to known antibiotics, we are likely to face a public health crisis of unimaginable proportions. “It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,” Muhammad H. Zaman warns. The Biography of Resistance is Zaman’s riveting and timely look at why and how microbes are becoming superbugs. It is a story of science and evolution that looks to history, culture, attitudes and our own individual choices and collective human behavior. Following the trail of resistant bacteria from previously uncontacted tribes in the Amazon to the isolated islands in the Arctic, from the urban slums of Karachi to the wilderness of the Australian outback, Zaman examines the myriad factors contributing to this unfolding health crisis—including war, greed, natural disasters, and germophobia—to the culprits driving it: pharmaceutical companies, farmers, industrialists, doctors, governments, and ordinary people, all whose choices are pushing us closer to catastrophe. Joining the ranks of acclaimed works like Microbe Hunters, The Emperor of All Maladies, and Spillover, A Biography of Resistance is a riveting and chilling tale from a natural storyteller on the front lines, and a clarion call to address the biggest public health threat of our time.

30 review for Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    On January 13, 2017, a brief article from Washoe’s [Washoe County, in Nevada] public health officials was published in the Centers for Disease Control’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, and it sent shockwaves around the world. It was the first report of its kind—never before had a US county public health official written about a complete failure of every single antibacterial drug that they had available to them. It was darkly serendipitous that I was reading this book in March, 2020, an On January 13, 2017, a brief article from Washoe’s [Washoe County, in Nevada] public health officials was published in the Centers for Disease Control’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, and it sent shockwaves around the world. It was the first report of its kind—never before had a US county public health official written about a complete failure of every single antibacterial drug that they had available to them. It was darkly serendipitous that I was reading this book in March, 2020, and that the book will find its way to bookstores in April, when, no doubt, we will still be facing considerable personal and global, medical and economic challenges from what must be deemed public enemy number one, COVID-19. If you will indulge me, I would like to talk a bit about the current crisis which, while very much related to the book under review, is only one element. I promise to get to the actual book review part before too long. The SARS epidemic began in 2002. According to the National Health Service in the UK “There’s currently no cure for SARS, but research to find a vaccine is ongoing.” Tick tock, guys, I mean eighteen years is not enough? It gives you some idea of the level of concern about COVID-19. Even the nomenclature can be a bit confusing. “CO” is for “corona,” the type. “VI” is for virus, duh-uh. “D” however, may not be obvious but will be after you read this. Disease. See? The “19” is not the 19th iteration of this malady, but represents the first year in which it was identified, or 2019. You will not find a COVID-18. The actual virus is called “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”, or SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. And Yes, it is very much related to the earlier SARS virus and disease. Two days before my wife was due to return to NYC where she works several days a week, the first case was confirmed in Manhattan. She still went in. Work is work. In the absence of a corporate ok, most people will be reluctant to just call out. How many other people are faced with the same challenge? Go in or stay home? How can one judge the risk if there is no good information yet on how vulnerable one might be to picking up the virus at, say, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, or at Grand Central Station or on the A train, or on the local bus? Maybe your Uber or taxi driver is a carrier and does not even know it. Paranoia can be understandable at such times. For myself, I do not need to interact much with the world, relatively. A good thing, given that I am in the age group most susceptible to the worst results from the virus. But the world does come to me. My wife’s trips to NYC have stopped for now, corporate has encouraged employees to work from home as much as possible, but we still have a truck-driver relation in the house on a daily basis, and we still have to shop, for food, meds, and other things. COVID-19 is a global peril because there are currently no drugs available that can dispatch it. Forget a vaccination that is probably well over a year away, if even then. The best one can hope is that, if you get it, you can endure the flu-like symptoms for the duration of the infection, and that your symptoms do not become severe. For the optimistic, The National Institutes of Health reports that they are testing a possible treatment. No date was offered on when the test period would end, or when a decision could be made as to the efficacy of the treatment, the drug Remdesivir, nor, if proven effective, how long it might be before production could be scaled up to provide the vast volumes of the drug that will no doubt be needed. It used to be that afflictions were named for the place where they were first discovered. MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, comes to mind. And it should be known that the Spanish flu actually originated in Kansas, but was first copped to in Spain. Locality use in nomenclature for diseases is now considered unacceptable, as stigmatizing. Of course, there are cynical folks on the right who are deliberately attempting to distract political attention from the colossal failure of the Trump administration in the face of this crisis by poking racist nerves and referring to COVID-19 as the Chinse flu, the Wuhan flu or the Wu-Flu. The hope is that it will prompt Dems to go after them for their racism, and then they could be talking about the attack by Dems and not the administration’s lies, failures, cover-ups, and cluelessness. This week, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. My wife did not travel to Manhattan, but worked the full week from home, and will until directed otherwise. But the reality of the threat continues to grow (the NBA just postponed the entire 2020 season), MLB has postponed all games, Spring training and regular season, a pointless ban on travel from most of Europe has been announced, and tests for COVID-19 remain in mortally short supply here in the USA. If you can’t test anyone, you can’t confirm an increase in the number of cases, or so I expect the thinking goes in some quarters. Thanks for indulging me, now on to the book. Muhammad H. Zaman - image from NTNU Returning to the opening quote from the book, people and bacteria have been engaged in an arms race for a long time, or it might be better called an AMRs (Antimicrobial resistance) race, and it appears that the microbes are one up on us at present. This is a biography. One might think of it in terms that some of us of a certain age might associate with a TV show from the way-back, This Is Your Life. A celebrity guest would be introduced, then we watched her or him react to a procession of people from their life, usually teachers, old friends, mentors maybe, arresting officers, whatever. I suppose one might think of Biography of Resistance in a similar vein. We are told at the beginning that a malady has been found (see opening quote) that has proved resistant to all known antibiotics. The bug in question was a CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae). Many Entero bacteria are harmless, but this family member was Klebsiella pneumoniae, the culprit behind not only many a UTI, but life-threatening sepsis and pneumonia, as well. All known antibiotics (26 at the time) were tried. The patient died of sepsis. So how did this particular bacterium come to be, or, more importantly, how did this level of resistance come to be? We travel back to when we first found out about our previously unseen fellow Earthlings, and track the advance of our knowledge of them through the centuries. From seeing them at all to understanding that not all our fellow passengers were benign. The action picks up in the mid-late 19th century, as, now recognizing some true enemies, means are found to do battle with them. Then they develop longbows, and we develop armor-plated vehicles, and they develop rocket fired grenades and we develop aircraft and on and on it goes. This history is often fascinating. One of the things that many popular science books do is to use people as vessels with which to deliver historical and scientific information. (Maybe like inserting a curative virus inside a friendly-looking bacterium in order to slip past defenses of the malignant microbe?) We can more easily relate to other people than we might to raw descriptions of science. And if the scientists in question sometimes have oversized personalities, so much the better. It makes for better story-telling. Some of the names here will be familiar, particularly to any who work or dabble in the life sciences. Maimonides, for example, nailed a description of pneumonia symptoms in the 12th century. Robert Locke’s Micrographia, published in 1665, showed that there is an entire world of living things inside the smallest objects. Antonie van Leeuwenhook built a better mousetrap microscope to significantly boost the resolution of our view. Were he a Python, I suppose he could have founded a Royal Society for Seeing Living Things Inside of Other Things. Louis Pasteur showed that fermentation was done by microscopic animals. (little red bulls maybe?) Where there is discovery there is often ego, sometimes to the point of personal, professional, and decidedly dickish competitiveness. Some early work in the examination of pneumonia descended to this level, sadly. You will learn about Robert Koch, a German microbiologist who, in addition to doing breakthrough work on fighting the black death, ran an institute that produced world class international researchers as if he had found a magic way to clone genius. You will also learn of household-name science icons who were not above fudging data when necessary to prove a point. Robert Koch was the Professor Xavier to a generation of microbiological superheroes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, training such household names as Kitisato (a household name in Japan), Julius Petri, yes, of that dish, and Paul Ehrlich, notable for his concerns about population growth, finding a cure for syphilis, and a for being the father of chemotherapy. - image from NobelPrize.org It is worth knowing how antibiotics actually work, what it is that they do, and how they do it. (Teachers and classmates report how the biographed bac snuck off the schoolgrounds and got into all sorts of trouble, while somehow maintaining top grades) Zaman offers a very readable description of ways in which antibiotics (ABs) go after bacteria and utterly fascinating material about the defenses, some of which are remarkably complex, that bacteria have developed (evolved) to fend off such attacks, including using antibiotic attackers as food. He also reports on different sorts of ABs that have been developed over time, things like bacteriophages, (bacteria eaters) aka phages, sulfa drugs, and a kind of fungus that disarms bacteria. One large surprise is that bacteria develop antibacterial defenses independent of the presence of humans. (Brothers and sisters appear on stage, telling about what a rotten sib the bacterium was) It would appear that we have joined a battle that has been raging for as long as bacteria have been on the planet. Another is the sources that are used when looking for new AB materials to bring to bear in the ongoing war. It was also heartening to learn of a particular confluence of disparate scientific disciplines joining forces to advance our knowledge, and hopefully enhance our armory. Actually, resistance, despite some temporary setbacks, seems to be working out pretty well for pathogenic (hostile) microbes (Lifelong friends, business associates and rivals offer some final praise for the guest of honor) Bringing us up to the present, Zaman catches us up on the dangers we face in the globalization of infection, the misuse of antibiotics as a contributor to the growth of AB resistance, the latest insight on how resistance is replicated, and delves smartly into sociopolitical elements of international health care politics and economics. Some of this is unsurprising, as companies that make their money selling antibiotics lobby against any restrictions, and too many have reduced or eliminated investment in AB research and development, because such products are less likely to earn an optimal ROI than drugs intended for regular, ongoing use. He points out how important it is to involve people other than scientists in the drive to develop new defenses. Economists, politicians, social scientists, anthropologists, writers and more all need to play a part in helping us find ways to survive in what has become, and what we have helped make, a hostile environment. Mother’s milk for policy geeks. Chart is from AMR review Gripes - I did not keep a running total, but the sheer number of named researchers did seem a bit encyclopedic at times, as if the author felt compelled to incorporate as many people as possible into his narrative. I expect, in reality, he was pulling hair out because of having to leave so many other scientists out of the narrative, but the number left in seemed a bit excessive. I doubt this can be defended as a gripe, more of a personal preference, really. But I find that science writing is hugely enhanced by the presence of a degree of levity. Mary Roach is the most stunning example of the application of (often jejune) humor to otherwise serious popular science narratives. You will be in no danger of having your latte shoot through your nose as you are ambushed by something totally hilarious in this one. Sip on in confidence. At the very least, The Biography of Resistance will give you some perspective, a more informed look at just how challenging it is for medical science to keep ahead of (or more accurately catch up to) the resistance that diverse, harmful bacteria keep coming up with to make us ill. Doctor Zaman covers a lot of territory in this very readable, relatively brief (263 pages) book. From the history of our learning what microbes are to showing how antibiotics attack bacteria, and how bacteria fight back, to showing the impact of antibiotics in the world, showing how their overuse has worsened an already challenging problem, pointing out what is currently being done, and offering a broad strategy for moving on, incorporating diverse disciplines. You will learn a lot, and I cannot imagine a timelier book as we try to make our way through what could well be called by future historians 2020: The Year of the Plague If nothing changes, and we continue on the path we’re now on, by 2050 the world will lose 10 million people a year, every year, to resistant infections. Review posted – March 13, 2020 Publication date – April 21, 2020 =============================EXTRA STUFF - See below

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This is a deep dive into the history of how scientists discovered bacteria and antibiotics and then bungled it all. The book is approachable and easy to follow even if you're not a scientist by trade. It's extremely thorough in detailing all of the many scientists who made discoveries in this area, and also goes into depth about instances of deceit, corruption, incompetence, etc. In light of the current coronavirus situation I was hoping for something about viruses, but this a bacteria and antib This is a deep dive into the history of how scientists discovered bacteria and antibiotics and then bungled it all. The book is approachable and easy to follow even if you're not a scientist by trade. It's extremely thorough in detailing all of the many scientists who made discoveries in this area, and also goes into depth about instances of deceit, corruption, incompetence, etc. In light of the current coronavirus situation I was hoping for something about viruses, but this a bacteria and antibiotic book. It really gives you an in depth look at this history, and ultimately was a little more depth than I wanted. That's not the book's fault though. It's an excellent look at an important topic. Rounded up from 3 1/2 stars for me. I read a digital ARC of this book for review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Fascinating. This is a subject many have turned their heads against- those who just want that antibiotic whether it is appropriate or not. Zaman has done an excellent job of expanding beyond the first world into the larger universe. He's got a great style that is never too technical or, alternately, pandering. Unfortunately, this is being published in the midst of a pandemic and it might not get the readership it deserves (it can be seen as one more piece of bad news). That said, it's a worthy a Fascinating. This is a subject many have turned their heads against- those who just want that antibiotic whether it is appropriate or not. Zaman has done an excellent job of expanding beyond the first world into the larger universe. He's got a great style that is never too technical or, alternately, pandering. Unfortunately, this is being published in the midst of a pandemic and it might not get the readership it deserves (it can be seen as one more piece of bad news). That said, it's a worthy and interesting read. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rahni

    I read this book at the right time--fascinating! This is a tale well told regarding viruses, immunizations, antibiotics, and the biology and biography of resistance. Resistance to illness, resistance to scientific procedures, resistance to all manner of things. Soooo interesting. I'm ready to read it again! What a good balance of historical development, medical know-how, economic systems, and current situations. Not quite as current as I was hoping for, given the 2020 pub date (goes up through 2 I read this book at the right time--fascinating! This is a tale well told regarding viruses, immunizations, antibiotics, and the biology and biography of resistance. Resistance to illness, resistance to scientific procedures, resistance to all manner of things. Soooo interesting. I'm ready to read it again! What a good balance of historical development, medical know-how, economic systems, and current situations. Not quite as current as I was hoping for, given the 2020 pub date (goes up through 2019), but really, really well told. Kept my interest throughout.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Wow. More terrifying than uplifting. So scary to learn how bacteria can and are able to outsmart science and technology so damn quickly. The constant battle and struggle to stay one step ahead of these little buggers is at serious risk b/c they are so alarmingly adaptive. Also, pharmaceutical greed and government regulations have made it unprofitable to research and develop new antibiotics. The widespread use of antibiotics prophylactically in animal agriculture, and by third-world and developin Wow. More terrifying than uplifting. So scary to learn how bacteria can and are able to outsmart science and technology so damn quickly. The constant battle and struggle to stay one step ahead of these little buggers is at serious risk b/c they are so alarmingly adaptive. Also, pharmaceutical greed and government regulations have made it unprofitable to research and develop new antibiotics. The widespread use of antibiotics prophylactically in animal agriculture, and by third-world and developing countries to treat typhoid and other infections, are the biggest contributors to the global health risk. While there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, I just hope it's actually the end of the tunnel, and not the train. Very well-written, well-researched and easy to read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammad H. Zaman is a very highly recommended biography and history of the scientists involved in the discovery and research of bacteria, bacteriological diseases, antibiotics, and the increasing resistance to antibiotics. "In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious d Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammad H. Zaman is a very highly recommended biography and history of the scientists involved in the discovery and research of bacteria, bacteriological diseases, antibiotics, and the increasing resistance to antibiotics. "In September 2016, a woman in Nevada became the first known case in the U.S. of a person who died of an infection resistant to every antibiotic available. Her death is the worst nightmare of infectious disease doctors and public health professionals. While bacteria live within us and are essential for our health, some strains can kill us. As bacteria continue to mutate, becoming increasingly resistant to known antibiotics, we are likely to face a public health crisis of unimaginable proportions. 'It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,' Muhammad H. Zaman warns." In this well researched account, Zaman covers the biography and history of the scientists involved in microbiological discoveries and explorations. At this point we should have all heard the warnings concerning the overuse and over prescription of antibiotics and how it is resulting in superbugs. Understanding how bacteria and antibiotics work will hopefully allow more people to understand the seriousness of the current situation. Harmful bacteria have always plagued humans and threatened us with death. The discovery of their existence and our understanding of it have increased our chances to survive the attacks. The problem is that bacteria have a multilayered defense mechanism that is continuously evolving, mutating, and staying one step ahead of our attempts to control it. Antibiotics were thought to be the cure-all remedy because they target the disease-causing bacteria rather than other cells in the body. "Antibiotics occur naturally, and scientists have further enhanced these sophisticated weapons with two goals in mind: to kill the harmful bacteria or to stop it from replicating." Zaman warns readers that at the current rate in which our antibiotics are becoming impotent, we need to be concerned that the day is arriving when routine procedures could lead to untreatable infections. This is a fascinating history, call to action, and definitely worth reading. Take note during this time of COVID 19: "While the world remembers the Spanish flu as the killer, most people didn’t actually die of the viral disease. They died of complications due to pneumonia, a bacterial infection. The flu virus weakened the immune system, providing an opportunity for the pneumonia bacteria to enter and thrive. In the absence of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, pneumonia proved to be a death sentence." "The basic symptoms which occur in pneumonia and which are never lacking are as follows: acute fever, sticking [pleuritic] pain in the side, short rapid breaths, serrated pulse and cough, mostly [associated] with sputum." Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2020/0...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josh Morris

    A good, easy read about bacterial infections and resistance. The author tells the history of science through an almost continuous flow of stories and historical figures. Like many other books, Zaman asserts the danger is real with short-sighted and profit focused policies in government and business drying up drug pipelines while improper usage increases resistance many fold. Unlike other books I've read on the subject, this had more focus on the results of war on outbreaks. While war has pushed A good, easy read about bacterial infections and resistance. The author tells the history of science through an almost continuous flow of stories and historical figures. Like many other books, Zaman asserts the danger is real with short-sighted and profit focused policies in government and business drying up drug pipelines while improper usage increases resistance many fold. Unlike other books I've read on the subject, this had more focus on the results of war on outbreaks. While war has pushed the medical field forward in some research areas, it has also decimated infrastructures, allowing disease to thrive. He says, "war, greed, and bad policies" are what render antibiotics impotent. I appreciated the non-technical discussions on phages, the antibacterial viruses which can target specific bacteria. And the discussion of plasmids, the little DNA packets bacteria exchange that can spread antibiotic immunity far wider than just its descendants. I was not familiar with bacteria going to "sleep" to prevent destruction. Zaman is a slight optimist. He calls for controlled usage through regulation, namely not using drugs for human consumption on animals. He also praises government incentives for biotech research. He promotes the creation of vaccines to prevent the need for antibiotics and for worldwide improvement in hygiene to reduce infections. He notes, "[Bacteria] obey no borders, harbor no national loyalty, and are always self-preserving, self-advancing, and self-replicating." This is a global issue that affects us all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    I known for a long time we are in a world-wide antibiotic crisis as pharmaceutical companies abandon R &D and antibiotic resistance rises, big I had not thought about how war contributes to the problem. Moreover, this book reminds me how short-sighted and dangerous nationalism us to our collective health and well-being. Simply, we need the collective world-wife medical community to solve our pathogen problems. Highly recommend this book,

  9. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    4+ stars. Bacteria, germs, viruses, antibiotics, mutations, resistance, scientists, flus and more. What could be better?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Not the most enthralling read, but a very important topic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    Enjoyed this book. An interesting look at pathogens and viruses. It's still too bad that people don't listen to officials and result in ongoing cases. Good read. 4.1/5 Enjoyed this book. An interesting look at pathogens and viruses. It's still too bad that people don't listen to officials and result in ongoing cases. Good read. 4.1/5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dmitry Khvatov

    Very good. I did not like too many biographical details in it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Colette

    “Companies investing in antibiotics are likely to lose money.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    If you're like me and believe everything happens for a reason than you might enjoy what I'm about to note or maybe not but I'm going off the beaten path to discuss the current state of affairs so bear with me. It's the end of April 2020 as I type this knowing a Worldwide Pandemic that claims to have originated in Wuhan China is upon us all. The Sars is just one major concern that I'll discuss which began in 2002 and has no vaccine to date nor does one exist for the now commonly referred to Corona If you're like me and believe everything happens for a reason than you might enjoy what I'm about to note or maybe not but I'm going off the beaten path to discuss the current state of affairs so bear with me. It's the end of April 2020 as I type this knowing a Worldwide Pandemic that claims to have originated in Wuhan China is upon us all. The Sars is just one major concern that I'll discuss which began in 2002 and has no vaccine to date nor does one exist for the now commonly referred to Corona Virus (Covid 19) AKA SARS-CoV-2 RNA which has claimed to date 963,276 across the United States of America. The first victim was now determined to have passed from a ruptured heart which was unheard of till now. https://www.ibtimes.com/coronavirus-u... In addition, there's been much talk about the inference to the Spanish Flu pandemic which many of those during that time died from the pneumomia. Now, I digress folks because I know many argue over healthcare but it sucks. I'm sorry to burst the bubble because my mother is retired RN OBGYN worked multiple jobs and raised four kids but I can only speak from experience. I have a 20 yr + friendship with Pneumonia, Mild Asthma, Acute Bronchitis (or the newly confirmed Chronic -yes it took Dr's this long to finally call it what it is), Mild Copd, plus what was hidden in dr notes as a computer generated never informed to patient HUS (fatal blood disorder) with microcytic hypochromic anemia and kidney failure to name a few. I'm also prediabetic, suffer from Raynaud's Phenomenon in (L-thumb) only- of course told to wear a glove but never confirmed- and told about possibilities but zero confirmations as doctors/PT's said,"You're fine- it's normal wear and tear" for a forty six year old. Thank you Spinal Surgeon for MRI showed severe spinal stenosis (aka facet arthropathy, central annular fissure, moderate/severe foraminal narrowing,disc bulges, and more). Don't forget the thyroid nodule pressing on my throat too at 2.8x1.7 cm) uncovered during such testing with the no blood flow in thumb aka Digit 1= flat. Now back to the show as I digress this book was more about the history of the pathogens, the scientists who uncovered them, and the antibiotics that may or may not exist or for which have been abused and overused to the point nothing works medically to stomp them out. I'm not a fan of the doctors not just because of 20 plus years of misdiagnosis but also because of the pedal pusher drug poppers that would rather have a nation of dopers than a nation of healthy vibrant functioning individuals. This is of course a matter of opinion but I've yet to find one that hasn't pushed for strong steroids, oxycontin (after giving birth) or the number of other nonsense meds like those which numb the pain such as cortisone. Non of which solve the problem they mask the problem. Not to mention the fact that China makes all our meds & antibiotics so we've become a nation of dependents. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/bu... So this leads to my next point because the antibiotics have been prescribed to me even when they didn't know whether it was bacterial in nature& so toss a ton of antibiotics ie. azithromycin or whatever might work. We need to fix the problem in America not kick the can down the road. Yet, the cycle repeats and every year I wind up in ER so I took the option to demand a flu shot, a pneumonia shot, and every other shot on the market. Since, I received the run around initially I continued to put pressure and received those two shots. Low and behold I then was diagnosed with INFLUENZA A this past January 5th and it was wicked beyond words with nausea, diarrhea, heart palps, clammy skin but no fever, and more. It required a trip to ER and IV hookup with EKG that resulted in being told I'm fine and sent home. The next day I knew I wasn't fine because of course I'm a pro with upper respiratory so I knew the signs and I had them all from the dark urine, to the night sweats, and the massive headache. Upon glancing at my file I uncovered the test results (yes, they never called me to report test) and found I was confirmed with the flu and that I had sinus tachycardia with several blood tests that had been issued (which I had no idea were conducted on my behalf) including Troponin T, D-Dimer, and CBC/Diff (which is always done up on me) as I have high RBC, Monos,Anion Gap, with low Co2 and potassium to name a few. Now, you might say ok good for you but why do you bring up all this personal information and that's to make one point. You are the best judge of your own body so listen to it and fight for it. This book was a great introduction to the history behind the pathogens and the people but our healthcare system is below grade. What I noticed is too many young people conducting themselves as if they have years of experience and diagnosing without proper credentials as was my case with a simple prescription for an emergency inhaler in which the prescribing physician was so knew she hadn't filed her paperwork to be allowed to fill prescriptions. So the importance of this book on antibiotics is that we have a ton of work that still needs to be done. Having an antibiotic to end this nightmare we are now in should've been completed 18 yrs earlier but with financing, staffing, and the political red tape I'm sure it wasn't . Now we race against the clock in hopes of saving lives.... This is a huge mess that we should've seen coming and I'm not passing the buck but I'm sure they knew the end result and it is now too late as this wake up call has cost countless lives at the hands of profit. The author has noted several instances of the over reach and dilemmas and I can only hope we learn a lesson when this is all complete. “It will be like the great plague of the middle ages, the influenza pandemic of 1918, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014 all combined into a single threat,” Muhammad H. Zaman warns. The answer to why and how microbes are turning into these superbugs needs to be further examined with a combined interests into the evolution, history, science, and human behavior. A fab read for all to consider.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Excellent look at the social and scientific causes of antibiotic resistance I love this book. Muhammad Zaman tells a great story about antibiotic resistance. He writes with a conversational tone and explains all the medicine very clearly. He brings the problem down to the societal and personal level by beginning chapters with a relevant anecdote, followed by a great discussion. Zaman adds a fair amount of social commentary because the problems of antibiotic resistance and of poverty are intertwin Excellent look at the social and scientific causes of antibiotic resistance I love this book. Muhammad Zaman tells a great story about antibiotic resistance. He writes with a conversational tone and explains all the medicine very clearly. He brings the problem down to the societal and personal level by beginning chapters with a relevant anecdote, followed by a great discussion. Zaman adds a fair amount of social commentary because the problems of antibiotic resistance and of poverty are intertwined in many parts of the world. One of the great things about the book is the description of the issue in countries outside of typical first-world nations. Although Zaman covers generally similar ground as Scott Podolsky does in “The Antibiotic Era”, Podolsky discusses more about industry-physician relationships and drug marketing. The books are different enough that both are well worth reading. I cannot recommend one over the other but I do strongly recommend both. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of both books discussed via Edelweiss for review purposes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    A solid 3.5 star kind of read, although I fear my judgment is thrown off by the audiobook narration, which was monotonous. Zaman constructs the book as something of a series of biographies, rather than drowning the reader in dense scientific exposition. It's pretty approachable, and it's much more well-rounded than the usual "oh no, superbugs!" feature article. I found the bookends of the book were more interesting than some of the middle portions, as the episodic nature of the chapters and the A solid 3.5 star kind of read, although I fear my judgment is thrown off by the audiobook narration, which was monotonous. Zaman constructs the book as something of a series of biographies, rather than drowning the reader in dense scientific exposition. It's pretty approachable, and it's much more well-rounded than the usual "oh no, superbugs!" feature article. I found the bookends of the book were more interesting than some of the middle portions, as the episodic nature of the chapters and the researchers they introduce doesn't always resonate. I appreciated how Zaman provided an international perspective and gave a number of female scientists their due.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Oswaldo A.

    “We are all in this together,” has become the catchphrase of the current pandemic. This phrase is relevant in more ways than we care to admit: humans have shared a relationship with every organism, large and microscopic, from the begining of life on the planet. Some aspects of this relationship, in many respects, could be characterized as “an epic battle between people and pathoges.” Dr. Muhammad H. Zaman, PH.D., has combined excellent research, and a gift as a natural story teller, in his book: “We are all in this together,” has become the catchphrase of the current pandemic. This phrase is relevant in more ways than we care to admit: humans have shared a relationship with every organism, large and microscopic, from the begining of life on the planet. Some aspects of this relationship, in many respects, could be characterized as “an epic battle between people and pathoges.” Dr. Muhammad H. Zaman, PH.D., has combined excellent research, and a gift as a natural story teller, in his book: “Biography of Resistance, The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens.” Dr. Zaman’s book offers lay readers an ecellent historical frame of reference to help them understand the narrative of this “epic battle,” which continues to this day. The book offers informative, enlightening and entertaining narratives of the lives, relationships, triumphs and hardships of scientists, doctors, researchers, and even bureaucrats, involved throughout history, in the development of antidotes and vaccines to fight pathogens. Dr. Zaman’s book is engaging as well as entertaining. It is a timely offering from a well respected author, at a crucial time in the battle for human survival during a world wide public health crisis. The stories, combined, offer a sense of optimism: science, scientists, and a well informed populace are crucial weapons in the battle against pathogens. “…optimism stems from the belief in human ingenuity, the vast reserves of natural treasures that are untapped, and the power of coming together. That optimism is also predicated on two things: a commitment to peace, and a desire to care for all people—everywhere.” An important book for anyone who wants an educated perspective to help them make sense of the current state of affairs. A useful tool to help them understand the necessisty of “global harmony” in order to coexist with all the inhabiting organisms on the planet.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenni Ritchie

    Terrifying. The science (and economics, history, and sociological factors) of anti-microbial resistance is explained in an engaging way. The author tries to hold out some hope for us all but given the complete cluster that is the COVID-19 response, the hope that the world will come together to address this even-more-deadly challenge is a difficult thing to believe. Particularly with boneheaded anti-science politicians who are unlikely to put money behind basic research. I enjoyed (?) was enlighte Terrifying. The science (and economics, history, and sociological factors) of anti-microbial resistance is explained in an engaging way. The author tries to hold out some hope for us all but given the complete cluster that is the COVID-19 response, the hope that the world will come together to address this even-more-deadly challenge is a difficult thing to believe. Particularly with boneheaded anti-science politicians who are unlikely to put money behind basic research. I enjoyed (?) was enlightened by (?) was horrified (yes I think that's better) reading about "community spread" that makes antibiotic resistant capabilities move through populations that have never remotely been exposed to the antibiotics the world depends on. The economics of antibiotic research and the ethical issues about prophylactic use in the developing world were eye-opening. This is not a situation where pure capitalism is helpful to the world. The eminent Dr. Fauci gets a name check for his involvement in an important initiative to encourage research.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Spencer H

    3.5 stars rounded up. The first part of this book was really good. Zaman summarizes some of the key discoveries on the topic with a very humanistic approach, telling them from the perspective of the researchers or patients affected. I thought this historical synopsis was interesting and provided depth while likely still being intelligible for a layperson. I especially appreciated his international focus. It's rare getting to read a book where Canadian researchers or Nova Scotian soil are mention 3.5 stars rounded up. The first part of this book was really good. Zaman summarizes some of the key discoveries on the topic with a very humanistic approach, telling them from the perspective of the researchers or patients affected. I thought this historical synopsis was interesting and provided depth while likely still being intelligible for a layperson. I especially appreciated his international focus. It's rare getting to read a book where Canadian researchers or Nova Scotian soil are mentioned! The second half of this book was unfortunately not as cohesive. I found some of the chapters jumped from one person to the next, going so far into each's background that by the end I couldn't remember who we'd started with or how this all even tied together. There were a few chapters in particular at the end that felt tacked on for page count and were rather dull or repetitive. At no point was it BAD, but it just seemed like if Zaman spent another 50 pages on historical events and culled his "modern" section aggressively this would have read a lot better.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frank Minich

    This book didn't do it for me. There's one idea: don't over-prescribe antibiotics, because bacteria are learning to thwart those antibiotics. The book just goes over this again and again. There are a bunch of mini-biographies, in which the selfless researchers combat the dastardly drug companies and stupid agricultural interests, but it gets tiring. It also seems like the content is intentionally spaced-out. Almost every section ends in the upper half of an odd page, so the obverse is blank. The au This book didn't do it for me. There's one idea: don't over-prescribe antibiotics, because bacteria are learning to thwart those antibiotics. The book just goes over this again and again. There are a bunch of mini-biographies, in which the selfless researchers combat the dastardly drug companies and stupid agricultural interests, but it gets tiring. It also seems like the content is intentionally spaced-out. Almost every section ends in the upper half of an odd page, so the obverse is blank. The author must get paid by page count. This might make a fine book for high school biology extra credit, to get youngsters interested in careers in medicine or biology, but not for anyone with analytical skills.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Hogan

    Finished Biography of Resistance:The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammed H Zaman, the noted Boston University educator and researcher. This book does a great job explaining in layman’s terms the ongoing battle between pathogens and people defended through medication. I learned that most of the antibiotics in use today are sourced from dirt; additionally the need for governmental assistance in policy and funding to stay ahead of antibiotic resistant bacteria. A very worthwhile bo Finished Biography of Resistance:The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammed H Zaman, the noted Boston University educator and researcher. This book does a great job explaining in layman’s terms the ongoing battle between pathogens and people defended through medication. I learned that most of the antibiotics in use today are sourced from dirt; additionally the need for governmental assistance in policy and funding to stay ahead of antibiotic resistant bacteria. A very worthwhile book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karishma Deshpande

    the author did a really good job of creating a story that involved science and history. It was a page turner for me for the first 200 pages (most of the book) and eventually got slightly repetitive, but that’s just because it’s based on facts. pretty interesting read in terms of predictably with coronavirus being present. a definite must for those interested in microbiology, infectious disease, and pharma. I would probably like to read it again to gain new perspectives after I finish pharmacy sc the author did a really good job of creating a story that involved science and history. It was a page turner for me for the first 200 pages (most of the book) and eventually got slightly repetitive, but that’s just because it’s based on facts. pretty interesting read in terms of predictably with coronavirus being present. a definite must for those interested in microbiology, infectious disease, and pharma. I would probably like to read it again to gain new perspectives after I finish pharmacy school.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Smith

    After reading Bill Bryson's book, The Body, and learning that there are only 4 big Pharma companies producing antibiotics I became interested in the topic of antibiotic resistance. Biography of Resistance was a fascinating book that covered the topic of antibiotic resistant bacteria from several different angles and more importantly across many geographic locations. It covers current groundbreaking work being done in this field as well as the history of antibiotics and the bacteria that evade th After reading Bill Bryson's book, The Body, and learning that there are only 4 big Pharma companies producing antibiotics I became interested in the topic of antibiotic resistance. Biography of Resistance was a fascinating book that covered the topic of antibiotic resistant bacteria from several different angles and more importantly across many geographic locations. It covers current groundbreaking work being done in this field as well as the history of antibiotics and the bacteria that evade them.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Could this book have been timed better (for the author)? Doubtfully... It's a very solid read, a bit heavier on the "pop" than on the "science" considering the subject matter; but, very apropos and in line with the title. It really is a biography of sorts, and a great run-down of antibiotic history; ingeniously centered on the "enemy" fighting back. Zaman does a great job of highlighting the natural arms-race of bacteria v. antibacteria, how human behavior tips the scale of that balance, and how w Could this book have been timed better (for the author)? Doubtfully... It's a very solid read, a bit heavier on the "pop" than on the "science" considering the subject matter; but, very apropos and in line with the title. It really is a biography of sorts, and a great run-down of antibiotic history; ingeniously centered on the "enemy" fighting back. Zaman does a great job of highlighting the natural arms-race of bacteria v. antibacteria, how human behavior tips the scale of that balance, and how we are victims to the circumstances of this natural imbalance. He also provides some examples of how the good for the many, the "right" choice, can be and often is subverted by the good for the individual and his or her self interest - whether that be determined by capital gains, food choices, or the minimization of harm of a loved one. I'd definitely recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    Muhammad Zaman, does a really good job of making the topic appealing and accessible. I really like the way he builds little anecdotes into all his chapters. Tone is unassuming and very generous: he makes space in the story for all the participants, not just the big names. Sometimes one notices that his structure is a little formulaic, but that never becomes a distraction. Muhammad Zaman, does a really good job of making the topic appealing and accessible. I really like the way he builds little anecdotes into all his chapters. Tone is unassuming and very generous: he makes space in the story for all the participants, not just the big names. Sometimes one notices that his structure is a little formulaic, but that never becomes a distraction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Ahsan

    Dr. Zaman's book stands out primarily for its accessibility - the book draws the reader into the complex microscopic realm of bacteria and antibiotic warfare through a narrative that weaves in the rich and continuing story of humankind in general and notable individuals who dedicated their lives to fighting these pathogens. I would have loved for the last few chapters to have gone into even more depth! Dr. Zaman's book stands out primarily for its accessibility - the book draws the reader into the complex microscopic realm of bacteria and antibiotic warfare through a narrative that weaves in the rich and continuing story of humankind in general and notable individuals who dedicated their lives to fighting these pathogens. I would have loved for the last few chapters to have gone into even more depth!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judi

    Dr Zaman presents a series of fascinating vignettes to trace our understanding of bacteria, discovery and development of antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance. We've come a long way, but have yet so far to go to eradicate the bacteria (and subsequent diseases) that threaten our very existence. For now, it's a finely balanced truce demanding resources and use of good science. Dr Zaman presents a series of fascinating vignettes to trace our understanding of bacteria, discovery and development of antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance. We've come a long way, but have yet so far to go to eradicate the bacteria (and subsequent diseases) that threaten our very existence. For now, it's a finely balanced truce demanding resources and use of good science.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mam

    Absolutely the right book to read during an unprecedented Pandemic, right? Told in understandable terms for a lay person, this is an inspiring account of magnificent research and discovery, along with a chilling account of what has happened to all these 'miracle' drugs as we have used and abused them. Absolutely the right book to read during an unprecedented Pandemic, right? Told in understandable terms for a lay person, this is an inspiring account of magnificent research and discovery, along with a chilling account of what has happened to all these 'miracle' drugs as we have used and abused them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Maybe 5 stars. Should have reviewed much closer to finishing. Very accessible descriptions of microbiotics and terrifying research about the nature of microbial resistance and how the genes for resistance can be transferred horizontally, that is, do not need to wait for generational evolution. Bad news. Take all your antibiotics when prescribed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura May

    Essentially a history of science, focusing on the people that have worked on antibiotic development and how pathogens keep winning the battle. Main takeaways are that the headlines are right--we're headed for a crisis; that public funding is needed, as the private sector won't continue research in this area; and that there's a helluva lot of drama between scientists. Essentially a history of science, focusing on the people that have worked on antibiotic development and how pathogens keep winning the battle. Main takeaways are that the headlines are right--we're headed for a crisis; that public funding is needed, as the private sector won't continue research in this area; and that there's a helluva lot of drama between scientists.

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