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Extended Audio Sample The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher, by Lewis Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (594 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lewis Thomas Narrator: Stuart Langton Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Lewis Thomas has been said to be a philosopher who uses the language of biology. His fascinating observations on the quirkiness of the world’s infinite creations causes listeners to ponder the workings of the cosmos through the most microscopic of life forms.

The medusa, a tiny jellyfish that lives on the ventral surface of a sea slug found in the Bay of Naples, becomes a metaphor for eternal issues of life and death as Thomas further extends the exploration of man and his world which he began in The Lives of a Cell. Among the treasures in this magnificent book are essays on the human genius for making mistakes, on disease and natural death, on cloning, on warts, and on Montaigne, as well as an assessment of medical science and health care. In these essays and others, Thomas once again conveys his observations of the scientific world in his eloquent prose marked by wonder and wit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This research biologist always has something fresh to contribute.”


  • “If Montaigne had possessed a deep knowledge of twentieth-century biology, he would have been Lewis Thomas.”

    Edward O. Wilson

  • “[Thomas] manages to be poet, scientist, social critic, and everyman, while writing with prose so clear it’s like looking through a jellyfish.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Varying in length and topic, these essays address death, cloning, symbiotic relationships in nature, as well as a wide range of other subjects.”


  • The 1981National Book Award Winner

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jane | 2/12/2014

    " This is a book that I will cherish. If asked what book I'd choose if I were in isolation The Medusa and the Snail would be a fierce contender for MVP. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by VeganMedusa | 1/31/2014

    " The best chapters were the first one about the Medusa and the Snail; the one on punctuation (my 6 year old has been fascinated with the idea of multiple parentheses, so I showed him the paragraph with 12 close-brackets at the end and it's given him ideas for his story-writing); and the ones on the history of medicine. Imagine being in med school when penicillin was discovered - being part of a revolution in medicine. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Brian | 1/21/2014

    " Lewis Thomas is, of course, an evolutionist, and I cannot avoid differing with him on a LOT of things he said in this book. More than in The Youngest Science, I felt for him, since he comes closer to the fact that everything is designed. And designed by whom? Anyway, this selection varies pretty broadly in quality with some leaning to evolutionary utopia, and some understanding how hopelessly stuck we are. Perhaps my favorite would be his essay on the Health-Care System. He understands at his best how our society's focus on health is very unhealthy indeed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Adrian Colesberry | 1/18/2014

    " I read this back in high school, but I reread the introduction recently. There's a fascinating discussion of the history of pharmaceutics in the 20th century. When Thomas was trained as a doctor, the pharmaceutical industry, then patent medicine industry, was being placed firmly under the thumb of doctors, who had surgical techniques and other therapies that far surpassed the effectiveness of the medicines being sold. Then sulfa drugs and penicillin changed the game and pharmaceutics took over, even though they never came up with anything even half as good as penicillin. In many ways, pharmacy as a whole is still riding on the coattails of penicillin. "

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