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Microbeworld Video

Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth - The Book

isbookThis richly illustrated book to accompany the PBS science documentary Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth combines vivid, descriptive images from the series and original artwork with the compelling story of the world of microbes and their role in the Earth’s ecosystem.

The authors have built upon the series content to offer a more comprehensive view of our relationship with the planet’s tiniest inhabitants. Targeted to a general audience, the book’s lively style will engage parents and their children, and teachers and their students, along with other members of the scientifically interested public, putting the vitally important role of the microbial world into stories and terms familiar to the reader.

Key Features

  • Approachable book for the scientist and non-scientist alike
  • Lavishly illustrated with over 300 descriptive images and original drawings
  • Text and illustrations effectively integrated to enrich the reader’s understanding
  • Comprehensive overview of microbial life, from their initial role as Earth’s first inhabitants to their future as our partners in the Age of Biology


  • Prologue: “The World That Came in the Mail”
  • Section 1. Keepers of the Biosphere
    • Cycling Through the Biosphere
    • Into the Rainforest
    • Oceans of Microbes
    • Life in the Deep Sea
    • The Sum of the Parts
  • Section 2. Tree of Life
    • Shaking the Tree
    • Placing the Microbial Branches on the Tree
    • Our Branch of the Tree
    • Evolution on Fast Forward
    • Forward to the Past
  • Section 3. Dangerous Friends and Friendly Enemies
    • Living in a Microbial World
    • When Friends Turn Against Us
    • Familiar Enemies
    • The Most Lethal of Strangers
    • Protecting Our Territory
    • Our Battle to Control Infectious Diseases
    • Our Evolutionary Dance with the Microbes
  • Section 4. Creators of the Future
    • Combating Antibiotic Resistance
    • Cleaning House
    • Feeding the World
    • A Walk on the Dark Side of Microbes and Humans
  • Afterword: “Small Things Considered”

Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth by Cynthia A. Needham, Ph.D., Mahlon Hoaglan, Ph.D., Bert Dodson, and Kenneth McPherson is available for $39.95. You can order online through, Barnes& or the ASM Press online bookstore. To order by phone, call 1-800-546-2416 (U.S. and Canada) or 1-703-661-1593 (all other countries).

Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth is published by ASM Press, a branch of the American Society for Microbiology. ISBN 1-55581-163-9.


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