Whodathunk that a history book could keep one so enthralled? "The Demon Under the Microscope" tells a fascinating story that will not bore you, even though it actually happened. (Sorry ... I never liked history classes.) Those of us who grew up after the advent of antibiotics have no idea how microbes used to wreak deadly havoc on humans. This well-written book shows us how people suffered and died from diseases now completely curable ??? pneumonia, gangrene, and tuberculosis, for example ??? and how dedicated scientists gradually discovered the critters that caused those diseases, then concocted the chemical remedies to defeat them. Doing so required such painstaking, trial-and-error guesswork and such (usually) fruitless, discouraging experimentation, that one wonders how these investigators persisted. I recommend "The Demon Under the Microscope" to anyone interested in medicine, even if you don't like history.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I have a strep throat today and the Dr. gave me a Z-pack. My Aunt had a strep throat in the 30's and died. This book follows the development of the first antibiotics... the Sulfa drugs, by Gerhard Domagk and peers between WWI and WWII. Although, of greatest interest to history buffs and medical sorts, it really is an interesting read. It reminds me of "The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lack" or "The Ghost Map" where the plot sounds dull... but you just can't put it down. The book is broad: you will be inside the trenches during WWI, in the laboratory killing mice, being bombed in WWII and in the states killing people with tonics and watching greedy decisions made in an attempt to put competing drug manufacturing companies out of business. The book travels all over... but always comes back to poor Gerhard who finally gets his Nobel Award. The reader is wonderful.
Excellent blend of Medicine, Science and History. Narrator was perfect for this text. This book details the history of sulfa drug development focusing in detail labratory trials, impact on medicine (especailly on the battlefield)and the many chemists, doctors, politicians and patients involved along the way. There is a nice balance between the technical story and the personalities involved.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
In their zeal to promote a book, publishers have a tendency to sensationalize and exaggerate. Sometimes, they just do not get the facts correct. The publisher summary of Demon Under the Microscope begins with “The Nazis discovered it.” The Nazis did not discover sulfa drugs nor did the Allies win the war with it. My god, the summary writer must not have even read this book because it does not communicate that at all. A German scientist and his team discovered sulfa drugs and not all Germans were Nazis. Gerhard Johannes Paul Domagk received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this discovery, the first drug effective against bacterial infections. He was forced by the Nazi regime to refuse the prize and was actually arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo. The book does not suggest Domagk was a Nazi sympathizer, on the contrary.
That aside, this was an excellent book. As has been the case in the past, as a biologist, it is difficult for me to know whether a book like this would appeal to the masses. At times it is a bit scientifically detailed. Having worked in research, I think that the book does an outstanding job of portraying the very sometimes tedious work that can go into such an endeavor. The book does not just state that it took years to accomplish something, it takes you through the years, step by step by agonizing step. Not as much agonizing for the reader but the reader definitely gets a sense of the agony of the researcher.
The book is well researched and narrated. It is fraught with sidebars about disease and its treatment throughout history as well as what was happening in other parts of the world contemporarily. If disease and its treatment or the process of research is your interest, I would highly recommend this book.
"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain
I was hesitant to use my credit on this book. I enjoy history, and in particular, war history, and was surprised to find ample amounts of both in this book. Most of us born in the latter half of the 20th century don't often consider the fact that, not many years ago, a common bacterial infection could be life threatening. Consider the soldier in WWI who received a small shrapnel wound that ends in infection, and ultimately death. NO DRUG existed that could address bacterial infection. The common medical prescription was fluids and rest. A simple sinus infection could have been lethal. In other words, it is hard to imagine the impact a few determined scientists had on humanity when they discovered a way to fight bacterial infection.
Thomas Hager does justice to these determined men and women in this wonderful book. I highly recommend this book to anyone. The narration is great, and the story is phenomenal.
Say something about yourself!
The story of big pharma.
The story of an individual motivated to discover a cure by his experiences in WWI.
The story of scientific jealousy and professional duplicity.
The story of how positive legislation can come from an uninformed tragedy.
The story of Third Reich abuse of concentration camp inmates.
The story of the US Military's inadvertent mis-use of antibiotics.
The story of family tragedies in the last days of the Third Reich.
The story of international recognition of a German humanitarian of honor.
A cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of indiscriminate use of "miracle cures".
I loved this book on many levels. I heartily recommend it.
I read and listen to lots of non-fiction books. I have never written a review. I am compelled to write this one because this book did not seem to get as much attention as it, in my opinion, deserves. It combined my interests in science, history and biography really really well. I loved the desciptions of the science - what it takes to make a scientific breakthrough. I loved following the characters - from scientists, to doctors to politicians and their families. Discovery of first antibiotics played much more important role in the history of the 20th century than I imagined. Again, a great listen.
I wish this book would have been assigned in my college Microbiology class - maybe I would have liked it better. The story is quite interesting weaving the tale of sulfa's development with a keen historical prospective - WWI and WWII for example. I also very much enjoyed Mr. Hoye's narration (as I have in all of his audiobooks) - it is well paced, clear and captivating. My mind didn't wander listening so I didn't have to jump back as often. Well worth the credit!
Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy
I suspected this would be an interesting work, but was totally unprepared for how shockingly interesting it turned out to be. Having worked in the medical field, I knew of Sulfa only as the poorer cousin of penicillin, and wondered what might be so interesting about the story behind its discovery that would merit an entire book on the topic. Now I know. there are a great many lessons to be considered and internalized in this story. An outstanding work.
I know next to nothing about medicine, biology and chemistry. You'd think the topic of this book would be toruously boring to read about, but no! The writing is wonderful and I was fascinated all the way through. The reader was good too. It's a very engaging story with interesting characters and intrigue, well told.