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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having worked in and around the medical profession for years, my understanding of its evolution was dramatically increased after listening to this book. I found the book spellbinding and very novel-like in its presentation. It is always fulfilling when a book provides a high level of entertainment and knowledge at the same time. I have already recommended it to friends, both inside and out of the medical community.
As a physician I found this treatment of the development of the first antibiotic extremely interesting and informative. The author
does a great job of describing the pre-antibiotic era-which includes most of history-and against this background tells the story of the discovery of sulfa.
In particular, the carnage (wound infections) caused by the "strep" bacteria in WWI is addressed in detail--it was a dreadful slaughter--and even the tiniest wound could kill.
This is a must read for one who would understand the modern antibiotic era, and a warning about what will happen when our current drugs are outsmarted by the bacteria.
A very well done history of the fight against bacteria, which led up to the magic bullet of sulfa. I especially liked the fact that Hager is a scientist turned writer rather than a journalist turned nothing. His grasp of science shows throughout the book, and this book has one of the best beginnings I've seen for a history of science book. The detail is amazing and always interesting, mixing large doses of big business, academics, science, and politics.
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.
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.