In the spirit of Natalie Angier's The Canon, and writing with the verve and wit of Bill Bryson, Small Wonders takes the reader on a fantastic voyage to the microscopic, but massively influential, world of microbiology. It's a strange and dangerous world where oxygen is a lethal poison, sulphur is a delicious treat, deception is a basic survival skill, and perfectly good alcohol is simply thrown away. Idan Ben-Barak wears his learning lightly as he introduces us to the amazing lives of genes and proteins, bugs, and viruses, and the myriad ways in which they interact to shape life on earth. On the journey, we learn about the teamwork required to rot human teeth; the microbe superheroes who feed on radioactive waste; suicide genes; the origins of diseases and antibiotic resistance; and the numerous respects in which microbes benefit human life - from manufacturing food and medicine, to mining gold, finding oil, cleaning up the mess we make, and generally rendering the earth habitable.
Small Wonders is popular science at its best. Ben-Barak's love of bugs is infectious and makes for a scintillating, fast-moving adventure that will appeal to even the least scientifically savvy of readers.