Podcast, book review
'Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures', by Merlin Sheldrake, Penguin Books Australia, 2020, also available as an e-Book and Audio Book
I recently stumbled across this wonderful, and award-winning book via ABC Radio National’s ‘Conversations’ podcast and a fascinating interview with the author (52 minutes listen).
PODCAST LINK HERE: Fascinating fungi - the intelligent kingdom
(from the Publisher) There is a life-form 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 it 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 more than 90 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.
Watch Merlin Sheldrake eat the oyster mushrooms that ate his book!
Some of the glowing reviews
“Entangled Life is a dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. Sentence after sentence stopped me short. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world and the earth-shaking, hierarchy-breaking implications of Sheldrake's argument. This is a remarkable work by a remarkable writer, which succeeds in springing life into strangeness again.”
— Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland
“Few books blew my mind like Entangled Life. The research, passion, writing, insights... Not sure if I've ever learned so much from ONE book. Here is to another scientist who celebrates imagination. Essential reading. Go and get swept up in a new world.”
— Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt
“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
— Tim Flannery, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
For further insights into Entangled Life, read The Understory by fellow writer Robert Macfarlane, in which Merlin & Robert go for a walk in the Epping Forest near London.
For more reviews of Entangled Life, go here.
Find out how to get a copy here.