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For barely more that a hundred years, man has been unraveling one of the greatest mysteries in medicine - the incredible sage of how the body defends itself against disease. It is a story of awesome intricacy and ancient, relentless battle, of human courage and often - tragic ignorance.

For a billion years, nature has been developing a system of protection so complex that even now we are barely aware of its workings, a group of microbe killers so quick and vicious in our defense that despite our size and our blunders, we still somehow survive. More than any other feature of man, the immune system is what keeps us alive. How it works, the vivid human tales behind its discovery - and what happens when this lethal system goes hay wire - is the remarkable story Dr. Glasser tells. And he tells it with compassion, knowledge and incisive elegance.

With cases that read like scientific thrillers, Glasser intertwines science with history to describe the discoveries and flashes of genius of such men as Jenner, Koch, Semmelweis and Pasteur; the modern-day struggles by doctors and researchers to pry out why the immune system saves one man - and kills another;

Above all, he makes us really understand, perhaps for the first time, just how amazing that human machine, the body, is, how complex what goes on inside of us and for us every moment of every day of our lives - even as you read these words.

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