Focus, struggle, and luck - these factors led a team of German scientists to produce the first antibiotic. Abuse, desire for profit, and overuse - these factors followed hard on the discovery of the first sulfa drug and its variants in Germany, France, the UK, and the US - and these factors led to the development of the modern US FDA and its equivalents in other nations. Living in a (western, industrialised) world where the assumption is commonly made that if one is ill, medicine will surely have a cure, or one can surely be developed in the not-too-distant future, Mr Hager's work recounts a time when only attempts to prevent disease through public health, diet, bed rest, and sympathy stood between life and mortality. Hager's description of Dr Domagk's years of effort, accompanied by the essential and invaluable work of his chemists Klarer and Mietzsch, should be an object lesson to anyone who thinks success is not "99% perspiration and 1% inspiration." His description of the dangers of antibiotic abuse, outlined in the "elixir" fiasco and the recounting of how a casual, incompetent treatment of venereal disease led to drug ineffectiveness, should be thoughtfully considered by all who demand an antibiotic at the first sign of a cold (antibiotics being ineffective against viruses) and then who wonder why antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become a major health concern in hospitals. Pathos and horror occur in this book - the descriptions of gas gangrene, the horrors of the Ravensbruck concentration camp experiments, the torment of Gestapo interrogations- as does the triumph of a quiet, hard-working, intensely driven man whose goal was to improve the situation of mankind.
I only detected one error in Mr Hagen's work. Curiously, he referred to Alexander Fleming as being an Australian, when in fact the observer of the Penicillium mold was a Scot.
The success of discovery following the arduous years of failed experiments. The description of Dr and Mrs Domagk's efforts to reach Stockholm so that he could receive his Nobel Prize, denied him years earlier by the Nazis.
His nuanced inflections and clear enunciation.
There is simply too much to "take in" with this book to listen in one sitting; however, it is so captivating the listener will want to listen daily.
At least one good thing came out of the entirely useless war that was World War One.
The connections between the battlefield and the lab.
How it flows from one advance to the next, especially how dies play a part.
Hope where none was expected
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Those born after 1945 take anti-bacterial medicine for granted. Before 1932, approximately 100,000 people died from pneumonia in the United States; an estimated 2,000 mothers died from “child birth” fever. There were no effective treatments for syphilis or malaria. Sore throats, commonly referred to as “strep throat”, were notorious killers. The spread of germs from poor hygiene and contaminated surgical procedures killed as many surgery patients as it saved. With the advance of WWI, wound infection became as great a danger to survival as combat.
Thomas Hager tells a terrific story that resonates with today’s complex societal relationship with the drug manufacturing industry. On the one hand, huge investment is needed to discover patent-able new drugs; on the other hand, millions of people cannot afford new medicines that are manufactured and controlled by drug companies that seek better return on their investment. The opportunity for a manufacturer to hide behind patent law to unreasonably dominate a critically important drug is as possible today as it was in the early 1900s. One wonders how much rising medical costs are a function of greed.
He was very good. He has a nice voice, doesn't make you fall alseep or fall into monotone. Perfect for history and science narration.
I love history but had no knowledge of the subject of this book. It was very interesting, eye-opening, and informative. I think they did a very good job of weaving together the lives of the people that made the medicines possible, the history of the societies they came out of, and wrapping up nicely with a result of those those medicines of the past affect modern life.
Did not read print version
The Hot Zone, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
His voice was pleasant enough but the narration was marred by many mispronunciations which annoyed me. Particularly he keep referring to patent medicine by mispronouncing patent with a long "a" which would usually mean open in a medical sense, not the alternate pronunciation which is used when having the legal right to an idea or product. It may seem like a quibble but the term is used multiple times throughout the book.
No, it was too dense and factual. Better digested in small increments but totally worth the effort.
This book was a stark reminder of where we were before antibiotics and how we might regress given the rise of resistant organisms. It helps to have a medical background but not necessary for any person interested in the subject matter.
I ENJOY BIOGRAPHY AND NON-FICTION. I LIKE TO LEARN FROM STORIES.
Great voice, well-read, with a fascinating subject matter
It touches on many topics...medicine, history,biography, so it became a suspense novel, but one with accurate information. I loved it!!
Loved the organization of this book; it is told in broad strokes chronologically but the author saves some of the back-story for each major topic to right before it is covered making it very easy to follow.
This has become a personal favorite.
Enlightening! Loved the chronology aspect to modern day medicines. This could have been a boring, fact-filled narration, however the presentation made this so interesting that I had a hard time turning it off. Would recommend this to everyone.
Avid reader/listener. Scuba Diver, Civil Engineer, Real Estate Agent and Enthusiast. Univ. of Pittsburgh grad, Pittsburgh Penguins fan!
The Demon Under the Microscope is a great novel by Thomas Hager that covers the journey of pre-modern medicine up to and including the first attempt at curing bacterial infections and diseases with the sulfanilimide drug derivatives. Mr. Hager presents the information in a very logical and engaging fashion and will leave you feeling satisfied after finishing the book. In addition, the narration by Stephen Hoye is top notch.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in medical history, or just wanting to listen to a great story narrated by a great reader.
Please let me know what you think. I am curious to see what others have thought about this book.
Retired high school English teacher. I liked and worked with the at-risk student. Interested in about everything, but I love a good story.
This book is well written and performed as well as an excellent source of information. Most of us cannot remember a time when antibiotics weren't available or a time when many common childhood diseases could be fatal.
The book relates the early history of the discovery of antibiotics as well as the development of the protective services that keep Americans from using pharmacological items that are neither effective or safe.
An impressive history!