John Wiley and Sons


The Titles

Microbiology, Principles and Explorations 5th Ed., by Jacquelyn G. Black
Liaisons with Life, by Tom Wakeford


The Reviews

Liaisons with Life

by Tom Wakeford

Published = 2002, updated
Review written = 19/August/2002
212 pages

Bugs, meaning microbes not insects, have a pretty bad press. Too often the a considered to be an occasionally annoying back-drop to life that would be better off dead. This is as far from the truth as you can get and Tom Wakeford, in analysing and discussing the history of just one small aspect of microbiology is doing his part to burst this bubble of ignorance. While only discussing microbes in their role as partners, willing and otherwise, in the many successful joint ventures that surround us and make our lives possible Tom Wakeford brings the wonder and fascination of the microbial world alive and wiggling into your mind.

As a life long ecologist and current biology teacher I can only be grateful to the efforts Tom has made in taking a fascinating and important aspect of modern biological research and rendering it available in all its glory to the world at large. Symbiosis and symbiogenesis are two thoroughly uplifting and thought provoking concepts that are essential to a balanced understanding of the world we live in. From Beatrix Potter as the young biologist shunned by the academic society of her time for her correct views on Lichens to Lynn Margulis hammering on the doors of modern academic somnambulistic apathy this book is a highly enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable read.

Symbioses with and between micro-organisms facilitate and support all that we hold dear in the world, namely ourselves and our culture. Personally I would make this book essential reading for all students of biology above the age of 15.
Highly Recommended

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Microbiology, Principles and Explorations 7th Ed.

by Jacquelyn G. Black

Published = 2002, updated 2008
Review written = 16/September/2002
800 A4 pages

Text books in many subjects continue to improve in terms of data accessibility, readability, and general user-friendliness of attitude. In the world of microbiology this trend is amply exemplified by this new (5th) edition of Black's Microbiology. Building on past successes while at the same time embracing the latest in both research and new technology this is a highly usable text as well well as an invaluable library resource. It is a university undergraduate level text in its essential conception with all the density of knowledge and data that this suggests, however it would not be out of place in a college library as well. It is strong on building up basic understandings first and on making the more complex ideas accessible.

Things I particularly liked were; the offer of more information on the books web site, the self quiz and the critical thinking sections at the end of each chapter, the tabulated fly-leaves of microbial diseases at a glance and the inclusion of many useful and interesting, if not strictly essential, additional snippets of information throughout the text.

Things I felt let the book down were; the brevity of the section on environmental microbiology, the failure to discuss the exciting ideas relating to the role of microbial symbiosis in the evolution of prokaryotes, and the occasional mix of imperial and metric measurements. On one page we are told about the temperature tolerances of bacteria with the normal C values while in a insert on the same page we are told, all life occurring at temperatures above 160 F is microbial blah blah. This is not a common occurrence however.

All told, for medical students, and those taking courses focused on medicinal and laboratory microbiology this is an excellently detailed and explanative text, good for even the least motivated of students.
Highly Recommended.

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