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March 10th, 2010

The title of this short book is not explained until the last chapter, but the subtitle is clear: The mysterious world of mushrooms, molds and mycologists. I was fascinated. I had no idea of just how dangerous fungi can be - inhalation of spores, poison, corrosion of building materials to make our houses collapse. I had no idea of the massive Armillaria, probably the world's largest single organism, lurking under 2200 acres of Oregon woodland. I had no idea of the tiny Ingold fungi digesting flotsam in streams. And I had only the vaguest idea of why mushrooms are the shape they are.

It's fascinating stuff and unfortunately Money's writing style isn't always up to it; at times he is too technical for a general audience, and elsewhere is not as deft at weaving peronal reminiscence into his narrative as, say, Gould (though few could match him). But his enthusiasm shines through, particularly his almost inarticulate joy in the process of research and discovery; and his material is vastly more interesting than I had thought it could be. I enjoyed this book much more than I had expected to.

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