This is a wonderful book. Guy Brown takes us on a white-knuckle ride through the cellular machinery and sub-cellular processes of life. He explains why the acquisition, processing and manipulation of energy is the fundamental problem faced by all creatures, and explores the intricate mechanisms by which this feat of life is achieved (including the actions of bacteria-like bugs who invaded the cells of our ancestors over a billion years ago, and with whom we continue to have a somewhat uneasy alliance). Having guided us to the research front, Brown then speculates on parochial but important matters such as why diets don't work, who is liable to get fat, why we grow old, and how we might acquire more of that crucial stuff which we all crave--energy.
As with all the best works of popular science, non-specialist readers will have to lace up their thinking-boots tightly before embarking on The Energy of Life. The science is often rarefied and the pace of the book almost breathless. The author's enthusiasm leads to some ragged prose in places, and there are also some errors--warm-bloodedness in the ancestors of mammals evolved much earlier than he claims, for example --but when an author stretches himself across several disciplines and to the limits of scientific knowledge on our behalf, blips of this kind are all but inevitable. Breadth is a rare thing in science these days, and Brown can only be admired for his audacity.
Guy Brown has levered the back off life so that we can all peer inside and marvel at the mechanism. --Chris Lavers [via]