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Sensitive Souls
Senses and communication in plants, animals and microbes

UK edn

Original Edition (London, 1999).

Sensitive Souls (German, h/b)  Sensitive Souls (Polish, h/b) UK paperback edn

German edn (1998); Polish edn (1998); UK paperback (2000).

Secret Language (US)

Edition for USA (2000); Taiwan (first edition, 2001), Tainwan (second edition, 2008).

Poland (2003), People's Republic of China (2011).


Humans are unique. Our senses, emotions and special way of life set us far above other life forms. Our whole history has been based on our dominance of nature, and our control of our surroundings.

This view is going to change, for here is a book gives a new appreciation to the other forms of life. People say that animals don’t suffer or experience emotion. Fish have no memory, which is why they swim round the tank. Plants are merely a mass of tissue, without sense of their surroundings. People believe that only humans can dream, and our species is unique in its ability to use tools, create a home, and feel passion.

That was how we were brought up to look at life, but here is a gripping new thesis that demolishes such views. We can see that life in all its variety is full of sensation and creates a complicated web of interaction with its surroundings. Mammals, birds and even fish mourn for a lost love. Single-celled organisms carry out tasks that are surprisingly complicated.

We can now demonstrate sensitivity in microscopic organisms of whom most people have never heard. Plants are presented as intricate and complex as they respond to their surroundings and change their behaviour in response to what they find out.

In Sensitive Souls we meet a new vision of life for a new millennium. Plants and animals large and small become united in a great web of communication with nature and with each other. We do not have exclusive command of emotion and passion, because even plants can signal distress. In an era when concern for animal welfare is becoming so widely discussed, this timely book is offers a revolution in popular attitudes. Never again will we feel so superior to the other species with whom we share the earth.

The thesis in this book is based on the author’s life-time studies of biology. In compiling the book he has been observing flying foxes in the South Pacific, whales in the North Atlantic, termites in West Africa, butterflies in Thailand, reef-fish in the Bahamas, orchids in Indonesia, and ecology from the Gulf of Mexico and the South Pacific to northern Scandinavia. This book presents answers to many outstanding problems in science, including the purpose of beautiful patterns pollen grains, how protozoa hibernate in winter, and the reason trees shed their autumn leaves. There are answers for other puzzles, like why walnut trees used to be beaten to improve cropping.

After reading this book we can see how this world-wide web of life is the key to understanding how the world works. The greatest lesson of all is that every form of life has its many strange, and they all show their own form of intelligence.

The Author

Author's photo

Brian J Ford revolutionised modern popular science with his articles and broadcasts. The founder of Science Now for the BBC, and host of television programmes including Computer Challenge and Food for Thought, he contributes to television programmes from Hollywood to Japan. His interdisciplinary scientific research has been published in the major scientific journals including Nature, Scientific American, Medical News and the British Medical Journal. Many of his discoveries feature in major science encyclopedias and textbooks, and his work attracts the enthusiastic support of scientists in many different fields around the world.

His science books claim popular attention (with large reviews in Punch, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail, as well as in New Scientist, Nature and Science Digest). He was the first British President of the European Union of Science Journalists Associations, based in Brussels, and Chairman of the scientific committee at the Society of Authors in London. Brian Ford has studied widely around the world and serves on many academic bodies in Britain and America. Widely reviewed as a ‘sparkling speaker’ and a ‘rare master of the art of getting the message across,’ he has lectured throughout Europe and has an annual lectureship in the United States, also visiting Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, exploring the tropics through India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Pacific Islands, and travelling in Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

He was recently awarded the Professor August Köhler medal for excellence in scientific research at a ceremony in Chicago. Over ninety editions of his books have been published, including the award-winning Images of Science, the best-selling First Encyclopedia of Science, and his influential BSE: The Facts.

See reviews by John Akeroyd in Times Literary Supplement, James Plath in Titan Reviews, or the T-Book Review.
Also: Booknews, Publisher's Weekly, Internet Book Watch, Library Journal.