Reviews for Immune

by Philipp Dettmer

Publishers Weekly
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Dettmer, founder of science education YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, debuts with an immersive primer on immunology. “The immune system is the most complex biological system known to humanity, other than the human brain,” Dettmer writes, and in four parts, he outlines the biological components responsible for maintaining human health. He describes immunity basics (“the immune system is a tool to distinguish the other from the self”), covers hygiene and immunoprotection, and breaks down pathogens, viruses, and autoimmune diseases. He also traces the course of an infection that arises from a simple cut as “bacteria spread into the warm caverns between helpless cells,” and, as the infection spreads, Dettmer introduces readers to macrophages (the largest immune cells), “suicidal Spartan” neutrophils, and messenger dendritic cells with ease. The author is less than sanguine, meanwhile, on products touted as helping to improve one’s immune response: “Boosting the Immune System is a horrible idea that is used by people trying to make you buy useless stuff!” Dettmer does an admirable job of staying out of the weeds, and colorful illustrations bring the whimsy of his YouTube channel to the page. Full of facts and fun, this survey is sure to entertain. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Sept.)

Library Journal
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Pop science writer Dettmer (creator of the popular YouTube channel Kurzgesagt ["in a nutshell"]) has written a volume explaining human immunity, which works on an extremely complex multi-systemic, even multi-cellular and micro-cellular level. This book makes the topic comprehensible with informal language and metaphors that compare scientific processes to everyday life. Dettmer covers types of cells, cell intelligence, receptors, antigens, T cells, antibodies, infections, vaccines, and ways to boost immunity. The book is heavily illustrated with vivid, full-color images that demystify bacteria, pathogens, and viruses (coronaviruses, influenza, Ebola). Dettmer is always engaging as he explains viral infections and DNA molecules in accessible terms for people of all ages (especially YA readers) and those new to popular science. VERDICT Bringing both insight and humor to an important and relevant topic, Dettmer's book is essential reading, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.—Marcia G. Welsh, formerly at Dartmouth Coll. Lib., Hanover, NH