Mushrooms, Molds, and Miracles

This was one of those odd finds on a used book shelf, which then sat around my apartment for a year or two before I actually picked it up. It’s also one of those books that leaves you feeling a little paranoid about the invisible forces at work in the world. Extensive sections on crop-attacking microorganisms and fungal infections of the body provide ample material for an obsessive-compulsive disorder. But this is balanced somewhat by explanations of how molds sustain our diets, our medicine cabinets, our ecosystem, and even our industrial production. Anecdotes on the role these simple life-forms have played in human history were particularly enjoyable, as were the chapters on hallucinogenic fungi and ergot derivatives (LSD). Published in 1965, the book addresses the growing concern over the abuse of such substances, but without the moral indignation which subsequent demonizing of drugs encouraged. [New York: The John Day Company]

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