The Lives of a Cell
Title: The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Genre: Science, Nature & Pets
Author: Lewis Thomas (1913-1993)
Publisher: The Viking Press, New York, New York
Year: 1974 (sixth printing)
Format: Hardcover, with dust jacket.
Provenance: Address label of previous owner on inside front cover.
Chapter Title Examples: An Earnest Proposal; Vibes; Organelles as Organisms; Your Very Good Health; Death in the Open; Computers; Some Biomythology; The World's Biggest Membrane.
From the Dust Jacket: “In The Lives of a Cell, Dr. Thomas opens up to the reader a universe of knowledge and perception that is perhaps not wholly unfamiliar to the research scientist, but the world he explores is one of men and women too, a world of complex interrelationships, old ironies, peculiar powers, and intricate languages that give identity to the alienated, direction to the dependent.“
Opening Sentence: “We are told that the trouble with Modern Man is that he has been trying to detach himself from nature.“
Random Passage: “A small boy, five-ish, with myopia and glasses, emerges from the water; characteristically, although his hair is dripping his glasses are bone dry; he has already begun to master technique.”
Goodreads Review: “In "The Lives of a Cell", Lewis Thomas dances around the question of what life is, and what it means to be alive. This book is a collection of essays that discuss biology, language, society, and other issues of naturalism and scientific observation that weave together into a rather unique way of looking at the lives of individuals with respect to the others. When I had finished this book, I was very excited by the new way I looked at the world around me, and eagerly discussed many of its concepts with friends and family.” — John Clark, January 7, 2010.
Notes: An unlikely 1970s best-seller, The Lives of a Cell explores various facets of biology as part of a broader attempt to explain What It All Means. Like Carl Sagan a short time thereafter, Lewis Thomas became something of a brainy celebrity-scientist as a result of this book's success.