Prior to the 20th century pathological micro-organisms were the most frequent cause of death in humans and the source of incalculable suffering and sorrow worldwide. People in those days were resigned to the sudden disappearance of friends, associates, and relatives, who seemed well one day and were gone the next, struck down by invisible killers against which medical science offered no defense. Pasteur’s vaccines were a notable exception, but even they could do little against infections, once these had overcome the body’s natural resistance. Around the turn of the century all this began to change with the development of the first effective antimicrobial medications. The advent of these breakthrough drugs signaled the beginning of a new era in medicine, when antibiotics would save countless millions of lives and transform our civilization.
The Demon Under the Microscope tells the story of a German physician and scientist named Gerhard Domagk and his lifelong struggle to develop a safe and effective chemical cure for microbial infections. Domagk’s quest began in the trenches of World War I, where he served as a medic. Horrified by the agony and death surrounding him, he noticed that soldiers whose injuries were not in themselves fatal, often died anyway, when their wounds became contaminated by bacteria. He set out after the war to find an injectable agent that would kill the bacteria without harming the patient. The path to success was long and convoluted, leading Domagk into the corporate jungle of I.G. Farbin, the German chemical giant, and involving him in intense competition with researchers in other countries, all equally intent on gaining credit for the discovery. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story, well told by Thomas Hager, of a man driven by curiosity, compassion, and personal ambition to change the world. Stephen Hoye’s reading of the text is very good too. Even if you’re not especially interested in medicine or its history, the drama of Domagk’s quest and the intense human interest of the people he was determined to help make for compelling listening.
Well written, and well read. A fascinating story of the discovery and history of the first miracle drug.
Yes. There is a lot of interesting history, and I think a second listen would help me to remember more.
The story was fascinating in the way that it connected the history of sulfa drugs with the surrounding geo-political environment.
He was easy to understand. The pacing and inflection were appropriate to the story.
Long but interesting account of the research and development of Sulfa and subsequent medications as well as an insight into attitudes toward science & history.
Worth listening to.
Yes, but I would let them know it often goes very in depth in discussing the lives of the doctors and not everything is easy to listen to. This isn't a comfortable book at all times and a basic understanding of medical practices of the time is useful.
There isn't one particular moment. There are so many people discussed in the book and their work was in concert.
No this was my first. He did an excellent job in making the book interesting and giving his voice gravity when the subject matter became darker.
No, this was a book that took some time to listen to. I had to take breaks to let things settle in my mind.
Enjoyed a lot. I thought it was odd that a book about the science of medicine mentioned homeopathy a few times without describing what it is, though. Describing it would illustrate exactly why it is out of favor (to put it mildly) with science-based medical professionals. I learned a lot of interesting history from this book, it's read well by the narrator, and I overall recommend it.
This is a true story about the discovery and development of sulpha drugs. It is extremely well written, surprisingly interesting, and the reader Stephen Hoye is a favorite of mine who does a great job. I would highly recommend.
Tells the rather convoluted story of the development of the first widely effective antimicrobial compound. It is never as simple as it is later portrayed, and the book nicely details the efforts not only of the German researchers most closely associated with the discovery of the sulfas, but the French &English groups who were integral in exploiting and expanding the discovery. Many of the researchers in the other groups, such as Alexandre Flemming, would make world changing discoveries in the process. Politics, war, and industrial intrigue are all parts of the story as well. Well written and narrated & I highly recommend to anybody who is interested in science, medicine, or industrial history.
I listen to a variety of audio books constantly in car and gym. My reviews remind me what I’ve read & are hopefully helpful to you as well.
interesting history of medicine, including how reasearch was done, medicine was used, and laws were changed. Clearly read and entertaining as far as educational/historic literature can be. good enough to recommend.