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Book cover  I wanted to start the review with the tired "A love letter to fungi" cliché, but I stopped because I realized the feeling I get from the book is not love, but awe. Merlin Sheldrake is indeed enamored with fungi, but Entangled Life shines with admiration and the amazement of discovery for this life kingdom. The thesis of the book is that everything alive right now is supported by the fungal network either from below or above.

  For example modern plants, and especially the ones we use for food, cannot even grow without mycelial networks. They exist in symbiosis by feeding fungi sugars obtained through photosynthesis and receiving from them minerals and other soil resources. It's not just a matter of supplanting resources, though. Fungi form complex networks that collaborate and share resources and information. They are more than alive, they are decision makers, choosing to feed one plant more or less, moving resources from healthy to sick plants, keeping tight and efficient portfolios (heh, folios) of different organisms that help it grow and survive.

  Is it really symbiosis or is it farming? Who is farming whom, then? And where one individual start and one end if their lives are strongly connected through the Wood Wide Web?

  Without fungi there would be no soil and perhaps we are unaware of how much of the human pollution is being offset by these master decomposers. Their influence starts from the very base of the food chain and ends with the cultural: without fungi there would be no alcohol, for example, and that seems to have been a very influential substance in our own evolution from monkeys to overthinking apes. That and bread, I guess...

  The writing style was a bit exuberant and sometimes repetitive, but this book is filled with information and not the one I had expected either. I've read some books about fungi and they all kind of revolved around some very common pieces of knowledge. Entangled Life seems to be complementary to those books, skipping over lazy common information and bringing hands-on and modern research knowledge.

  What can I say? I loved this book and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

  P.S. And it's not even that long. From the 800 e-book pages, 300 were end of the book notes, which BTW were very detailed and brought forth a whole new level of data. But if you just want to read a book about how important (and poorly researched) fungi are, you can just read the first 500 pages and be done with it.


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