Lion Forge: Haphaven by Norm Harper, illustrated by Louie Joyce

An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System

In An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel takes the reader on a remarkable journey of exploration inside the human body. His focus is that most crucial connection to every aspect of a person's health and wellness, the immune system.

Richtel's (A Deadly Wandering) approach is richly informative and engaging, a distinctive analysis of life's essential attributes. Just as the immune system works as a peacekeeping force through cooperation with bacteria inside and outside the body, he explains, so should mankind seek cooperation with nature and global neighbors to topple cancer, Alzheimer's and autoimmune diseases. Working to promote balance and harmony inside the body, the immune system functions best without too much tinkering or unnatural interventions. And so, Richtel suggests, gentle, natural remedies are more desirable than aggressive medical interference.

Of course, it's not always possible to avoid toxic drugs and their side effects, especially when fighting cancer, AIDS or other autoimmune diseases. Through the remarkable case histories of four individuals, Richtel explains the ways in which the immune system plays an intricate game of defense and how easily things go wrong when it gets out of control. Richtel's best piece of advice is to stop trying to live forever because this "festival of life" wasn't designed to last indefinitely. Instead we should focus our energies on things we can control, like sleep, exercise, meditation and nutrition. Eminently readable and with so many important takeaways, An Elegant Defense is well worth one's investment of time. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer