Ted Anton


My new book, Planets of Microbes: Perils and Promise in the Earth's Essential Life Forms, explores the latest discoveries that may reshape the future of our planet and our understanding of where we came from. 

Due in October, 2017 from University of Chicago Press, this book details the ways in which the world's tiniest, and sometimes most dangerous, microorganisms are being tapped as allies in seeking better health and a sustainable future.

From microbreweries to volcanic hot pools, the bottom of the ocean and miles below the earth’s surface, from our gardens to our bodies to Mars, a hidden living world is deepening our vision of life's capabilities.

Planets of Microbes puts a new spin on a remarkable era as powerful new tools reveal the abilities of microbes that respire minerals, make our wine, and shape our climate, in ways that might have therapeutic relevance. A comprehensive yet integrated overview of the microbial world around us, integrating concepts from many different disciplines and drawing lines of interdisciplinary activity where normally people don’t see them, it reveals how microbes and the search for understanding them have shaped all life around us. 

With wonderfully personal stories and compelling explorations of the background behind discoveries and the people who made them, this book reveal opportunities for investment in the hottest and most fascinating science of our time.  Most of all, it is a book about life, and the little things that keep it interesting. 

"... a fascinating journey through one of our least visible and most influential landscapes." Deborah Blum, Author of The Poisoner's Handbook

Upcoming readings:
Oct. 26, 2017   6 pm, John T. Richardson Library, DePaul University, Chicago, IL  

Nov. 1, 2017    6 pm, Columbia University Center for Science and Society

Nov. 4, 2017    2 pm, Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, IL 

Nov. 15, 2017  6 pm, Seminary CoOp Bookstore, with University of Chicago Microbiome Center Co-director Erin Lane

Dec. 5, 2017    7 pm, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

Jan. 18, 2018.  7 pm, Brazos Bookstore, Houston TX 

A Carl Sandburg Award-Winner in Nonfiction and a Nominee for a National Magazine Award in Reporting, I am a professor in English at Chicago's DePaul University. I have written for Slate, Publishers Weekly, and Chicago. My book, The Longevity Seekers (University of Chicago Press, 2013), took readers inside a tale that began with worms and branched out to snare innovative minds from California to Crete, investments from big biotech, and endorsements from TV personalities like Oprah and Dr. Oz.  

"Anton reveals a young field already rife with larger-than-life personalities and lab drama aplenty,"  Barbara Kiser, Nature.

"A must-read.  The characters are fascinating.  And the stories behind the breakthroughs that have already occurred are gripping enough to compete with a mystery novel.  Any one of the scientists profiled by Anton is likely to change the course of history." S. Jay Olshanksy, Health Affairs

"Anton vividly recounts the excitement in the various labs... and the intensity of the scientists' search,"  Bee Wilson, Harper's

"A valuable, engaging addition to the literature on longevity. . . . Anton is well equipped for the task of translating complicated scientific matters into accessible language. . . [His] polished prose almost qualifies The Longevity Seekers for The New Yorker or a good detective yarn; understated are his extensive research forays, the double-checking of facts. and the erudition that undergirds the book.” W. A. Achenbaum, Global Public Health

The Longevity Seekers was named a finalist in nonfiction for the 2014 Book  Awards from the Society of Midland Authors. Here is a link to The Longevity Seekers recent lecture: