In this science-health-memoir hybrid, Matt Richtel chronicles the development of our understanding of the immune system. Woven into the story are two women with overactive immune systems, leading to numerous autoimmune disorders, a man whose immune system was so perfect that he had HIV that didn’t develop into AIDS, and Richtel’s childhood friend, a larger-than-life character whose body rejects the normal treatments for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The personal narratives are inspiring, but for me, it is Richtel’s accessible history of immunology, from the discovery of cells to breakthroughs in treatment, that was particularly fascinating. And no wonder – Richtel’s background as both a New York Times reporter and writer of numerous thrillers made him the perfect person to write a compulsively readable science book.— Daniel Goldin
A magnificently reported and soulfully crafted exploration of the human immune system-the key to health and wellness, life and death. An epic, first-of-its-kind book, entwining leading-edge scientific discovery with the intimate stories of four individual lives, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist.
"An Elegant Defense by Matt Richtel is one of those rare nonfiction books that transcends the genre. On one level it is a fascinating and engrossing account of the latest, and quite astonishing, discoveries involving the human immune system and how it works. But it is also a story about people facing mortality, about the passion of scientists searching for truth, and a meditation on death and how all of us struggle with the ultimate mystery. Heartfelt and moving, full of compassion, love, and the human drama, this is the work of a writer of high ethical character who is grappling with big issues and deep humanistic problems. What an inspiring and wonderful read. I highly recommend this extraordinary book." --DOUGLAS PRESTON, #1 bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God