How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures
A mind-altering literary-scientific adventure through the world of fungi for readers of Ed Yong and Other Minds
‘A dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. Sentence after sentence stopped me short. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world. A remarkable work by a remarkable writer’ ROBERT MACFARLANE, author of Underland
There is a lifeform so strange and wondrous that it forces us to rethink how life works…
Neither plant nor animal, it is found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. It can be microscopic, yet also accounts for the largest organisms ever recorded, living for millennia and weighing tens of thousands of tonnes. Its ability to digest rock enabled the first life on land, it can survive unprotected in space, and thrives amidst nuclear radiation.
In this captivating adventure, Merlin Sheldrake explores the spectacular and neglected world of fungi: endlessly surprising organisms that sustain nearly all living systems. They can solve problems without a brain, stretching traditional definitions of ‘intelligence’, and can manipulate animal behaviour with devastating precision. In giving us bread, alcohol and life-saving medicines, fungi have shaped human history, and their psychedelic properties, which have influenced societies since antiquity, have recently been shown to alleviate a number of mental illnesses. The ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in break-through technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘Wood Wide Web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems. Yet they live their lives largely out of sight, and over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.
Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into this hidden kingdom of life, and shows that fungi are key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel and behave. The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.
“A dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. Sentence after sentence stopped me short. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world – the secrets of which modern science is only now beginning to fathom – and the earth-shaking, hierarchy-breaking implications of Sheldrake's argument. A remarkable work by a remarkable writer”
Robert MacFarlane, author of Underland
“It is impossible to put this book down. Entangled Life provides a window into the mind-boggling biology and fascinating cultures surrounding fungal life, as well as fungi’s innumerable uses in materials, medicine and ecology. Sheldrake asks us to consider a life-form that is radically alien to ours, yet vibrant and lively underfoot”
HANS ULRICH OBRIST
“Entangled Life is a revelation. It is a radical, hopeful and important book and I couldn’t put it down. With elegance, wit and clarity Sheldrake engages us in the hidden world of fungi, a miraculous web of connections, interactions and communication that changes the way we need to look at life, the planet and ourselves”
ISABELLA TREE, author of Wilding
“This is an adventurous and indeed daring book, opening several unfamiliar micro-domains in the organic life world and its multiple connections. There is much to be learned in this wide field, and this vivid, scrupulous guide points the way”
J. H. PRYNNE