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Publisher's Summary

There is a lifeform 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.

©2020 Merlin Sheldrake (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. Sentence after sentence stopped me short. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world. A remarkable work by a remarkable writer." (Robert MacFarlane, author of Underland)

What listeners say about Entangled Life

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Excellent read!

Sheldrake takes us on a marvelous journey with him on the quest to understanding fungi. Through this, he finds appreciation for the tremendous impact these uncredited simple beings have on the evolution of life itself. He introduces us to the beauty of symbiotic relationships in nature also highlights the collaborative efforts in the evolutionary tale, as opposed to the popularly regarded idea of competition.
Merlin Sheldrake, I think, has done a fantastic job authoring this book. A scientifically dense book presented in a smooth narrative that's engaging right from the start. Him, reading his own words through the audiobook, in itself, makes the experience captivating as his passion for the subject is accentuated with his voice and is honest. The book made me think of the world differently. And I, now, have a newfound appreciation of the entangled and interdependent life on this planet. And that is a testament to a great book. The book left me with a lasting impression and a curious eye.
With the philosophical gradient in this book, I'd recommend this book to just about anybody looking for a good read. But especially to amateur mycologists to get an overview of the fungal and microbial world and the latest research advancements in the scientific community around the world in the field.

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  • Le Roux
  • 01-03-21

mushroom here

really loved it, easy, informative journey of sheldrake, mycelium and ecosystems. anyone can read this

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  • Joanne Clough
  • 24-01-21

A book for our times

We now know how strongly narratives permeate our lives and society - but very few books ever truly illustrate how the many threads of all those stories, facts and discoveries are intertwined, by example, while educating and entertaining with the ease of a genuine master. Merlin is not just a supremely knowledgeable mycologist, but also an elegant and insightful master of his field. I have been informed, entertained and motivated to learn more. And there could be no better narrator. The mushroom talks!

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  • James R. Modrall
  • 03-01-21

Fascinating info

I find the new (meaning since my high school biology class) on fungi and the interdependence between them and plants fascinating. This book is a good overview with many perspectives on the topic. Unfortunately the author is not the best narrator for his book - his voice is a bit soporific.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-11-20

well done Merlin

A wonderful, inspiring and illuminating foray into fungal observation. Melvin has a curiosity organised like mycelium and in this book he eloquently describes his discoveries and mused on the significance.
thank you
Is Melvin Rupert's son?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-10-20

Remarkable and genius

I really enjoy the scientific, philosophical, enthusiastic approach on this subject. It was a really fascinating experience for me

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  • Paul
  • 17-11-20

Willingly entangled

One of the most fascinating, inspiring and thought-provoking books I have ever read/listened to. It strongly reminded me of Robert Macfarlane’s nature writing, which is one of the highest recommendations I can give it, as well as Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind. Sheldrake’s voice is a sheer pleasure to listen to - hard to believe that he’s not a trained and seasoned voice actor - and his deep passion and enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. The references to continental philosophy and the connections to Terence McKenna and Paul Stamets were an unexpected bonus.

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  • Richard Green
  • 14-11-20

beautiful book and very well read

Absolutely stunning book. I was spellbound, the narrative is beautiful and has captivated my mind and heart.

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  • Liam1294
  • 10-11-20

Interesting but disconnected and wishy, washy

More of a philosophical/personal description of the nuances of hallucinogens rather than a comprehensive popular science of fungi and their applications for human problems.

Also quite disconnected. One chapter about truffels suddenly jumps into one about lichens with never really an underlying argument or direction.

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  • Mark O'Connell
  • 17-11-20

Multi levelled enjoyment

I really loved this book from beginning to end. I remarks early on that Merlins mind seems a bit like mycelium. I love the way he explores funghi from so many angles. His narration is fabulous

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  • MRS R J LONGWORTH
  • 11-11-20

Fascinating!

Nature has all the answers. We have to steer our children to study sciences and save our planet. Merlin’s book should be on the science curriculum in all schools

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  • Jim Vaughan
  • 01-10-20

Holistic Science at its Best

“Entangled Life” is like the very best of Richard Dawkins in its vivid portrayal of the fascinating complexity of organisms, in this case fungi. What marks this book out as something more however, is Sheldrake’s holistic focus on the networks of interdependence, communication and manipulation actively mediated by fungi - one manifestation being the “Wood Wide Web”.

Historically humans are deeply entangled too, from the hunting of truffles, to the brewing of alcoholic drinks, to the shamanic use of psilocybin mushrooms. Fungi now may literally save the world! Their mycelia can be grown to replace plastics, wood, concrete, leather - almost any material, from waste products, as well as consuming pollutants such as oil, or toxic chemicals, even radioactive nuclides. They can combat pathogenic viruses and bacteria too, such as those killing the bees. Their usefulness is hugely under-appreciated.

The biology is nicely interspersed with biographical descriptions, such as his stay with Terence McKenna, and conversations with Paul Stamets, as well as the sensory delights of immersion in a hot Japanese bath of fermenting wood shavings, diving into mouldering leaf piles, sniffing the ground for truffles or thrusting your face into clusters of flowers.

Read by the author, there was something almost musical or poetic about this book, yet the science is flawless. It held for me both an intellectual fascination as well as being a imaginative sensory experience.

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  • James Ogden
  • 09-09-20

Wonderful

A low impact exposition into a mostly hidden world, written and narrated with a clear love for the subject matter. The hard copy includes a long list of references and colour pictures to allow you to further investigate the subject.

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  • Luke
  • 12-03-21

Really struggled to make it through

I'm honestly surprised I didn't enjoy this as I have a keen interest both in wild mushroom foraging and psychedelics, but the narrator seems to drone on endlessly in this half-stoned dreamy way and by the time I finished the book I felt like my head would implode if I heard another "everything's connected man, it's all a network" or "everything's a mushroom if you think about it". A cool and interesting topic but repetitive and desperately in need of some pruning.

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  • Mrs T Newton
  • 26-01-21

Fabulous

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, thank you Merlin. Being a soil scientist & plant nutritionist come gardener it was a joy to listen to a language & understanding I harmonise with instinctively so well.

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  • CW99
  • 30-04-21

amazing book...

So interesting, opened my eyes to a whole new world under my feet! A must read for everyone...

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-01-21

fantastic, so so so important. lovely narration

such an important topic, lovely narration, 5stars all the way. Thank you for making this avaliable

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-04-21

I loved loved loved this Audio Book

Who would have thought that I could have sat through 7 hours plus of Audio on Mushrooms!
fabulously narrated funny informative and yes fungi will save the world.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-02-21

Spell bounding

Merlin is nothing short of magnificent in his performances and presentation of what makes you feel like a divine secret that is being shared only with the listener.
A beautiful journey into a world everyone should travel to! I have the physical copy and listen to the audio book often...
Do yourself a favor, listen to this book!!!!

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  • Tim
  • 25-01-21

Fascinating ideas

Some incredible ideas, but the author spend a lot of time being meta about it.

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  • Mark A Glouftsis
  • 18-11-20

Mesmerizing

Draws you in, following the roots down the rabbit hole. Amazingly well researched and written for my little brain to understand. I’ll be reading and digesting it again. Brilliant.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-11-20

wonderful book

Wonderful book. Superbly narrated by the author. Enchanting view into the world of fungi and its mysteries.

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  • dan
  • 14-09-20

A wonderful storyteller and science communicator

Fantastic book. Didn't want it to finish. Merlin guides you into the wonderful world of fungi, highlighting the importance of these organisms and exploring their natures and interactions with humans and other creatures. He weaves through a myriad of anecdotes and invites you to experience his own deep relationship with his fungal partners. The text is read beautifully by the author himself. Do yourself a favour and have a listen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-09-20

only an hour in

There's so much to love here already. The confluence of science and art; beautifully written and smoothly narrated by Merlin. I studied Envi Sci at Bradford and in our first week of our first year in 1980 we had a 'Fungus Foray' as a bonding experience led by our lichen expert Prof Mark Seward. If only Merlin's book had been there to inspire me then! I may have taken my undergrad studies more seriously! congratulations Merlin on a magnificent piece of writing. I am savouring it as I would the most desirable truffle you describe early in your work. Phil Gatt