Sulfa saved millions of lives, among them, Winston Churchill's and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.'s, but its real effects have been even more far reaching. Sulfa changed the way new drugs were developed, approved, and sold. It transformed the way doctors treated patients. And it ushered in the era of modern medicine. The very concept that chemicals created in a lab could cure disease revolutionized medicine, taking it from the treatment of symptoms and discomfort to the eradication of the root cause of illness.
A strange and vibrant story, The Demon Under the Microscope illuminates the colorful characters, corporate strategy, individual idealism, careful planning, lucky breaks, cynicism, heroism, greed, hard work, and central (though mistaken) idea that brought sulfa to the world. This is a fascinating scientific tale with all the excitement and intrigue of a great suspense novel.
©2006 Thomas Hager; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Highly entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a fascinating story of the invention of sulfa drugs. Surprisingly, strep infections were a huge killer throughout history up until the ‘30s. These drugs, along with penicillin are responsible for a significant increase in the average human lifespan.
It's been a year or more since I listened to this. I was really captivated and in conversations I was always talking about the interesting things I learned in this book. I'm sure I will read it again sometime.
The subject and story are engrossing, but it was hard to listen to this narrator's overly dramatic inflections and his misproununciations. I gave up half way through.
Very interesting , a lot of usuful knowledge, but become like a reserach paper time to time, at this points it was easy to get distructed
This book presented the rise of antibiotics in a well written and attention catching manner. The intertwining of historical events and their interplay with the discovery process was dynamic and engaging. Well worth reading, right until the end.
At the end of the book the author starts bemoaning the doctors of "the Good ol' days" when they would come to your home and stand by watching over you and holding your hand... while you died horribly of a staph infection! Except that he deliberately leaves out the death part. He then goes on to bemoan the loss of such wonderful things as self medication and homeopathy. Yeah I really wish I could try to figure out what will best cure me, what I want to do is research thousands of drugs and make a rational and informed decision while I am suffering from a fever of 104* or I could just take the "magic water" of homeopathy. So listen to the book but skip the epilouge.
Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.
This is the true story of the most important discovery in the history of medicine, and perhaps the most important discovery in the history of man. Prior to the development of anti-bacterial drugs that work INSIDE the body, not just on the surface like antiseptics such as alcohol do, a person with an internal infection was already dead...unless he was one of the few in a million who got lucky. Some scientists believed it possible to create such an internally acting chemical...one that would kill bacteria but not kill the human being infected with the bacteria. Others said such a goal was simply mad.
In labs men of science and medicine laboriously searched for something they were not even sure could possibly exist...and they tried endless examples of chemicals, hundreds of variations...and one day something happened and there was an indication that the dream was not just a fantasy.
Among the fascinating details in this story of world-changing discovery is the tale of the German discovery of an antibacterial agent in the 1930s that saved the life of Winston Churchill in the middle of World War II when Churchill developed a nearly fatal infection. And there is the tale of the scientist sent to prison in Nazi Germany for being "too polite" in refusing a Nobel Prize for his scientific discovery....Hitler had declared that no German would accept a Nobel Prize after a Nobel was awarded to an anti-Nazi peace activist. So when the scientist declined the offer of the Nobel Prize but did so in a letter that the Gestapo thought too polite, the scientist was jailed promptly.
Then there is the tale of the sons of two U.S. presidents....one who died while his dad was president and the other who survived an illness while his dad was president...the two ill sons separated by only a dozen years and by the discovery of effective internal anti-bacterial medicine.
A compelling narrative indeed.
This book might have been too dense to read but I found listening to be enjoyable. I was a bit confused early on by the similar sounding names of the protagonists but continued listening because my hands were messy (I listen in my art studio) and soon the name confusion was a non-issue.
The story is not exactly linear; it jumps between different times and different important figures in the development. I think this aspect of the structure of the story helped make it an interesting listen. It was interesting to start to piece together what was going on in different places. The author allowed the listener to start to make the connections on her own.
I probably finished the book in 2 days.
One of my favorite non-fiction audiobooks. An absolute epic. The description of the book is spot on, if the description piques your interest, the book won't disappoint.
Membre since March 2008.
Top 5 on my list of all time favorite books. If you like history and science this book is for you. Amazing to see how dedicated the men of science are at finding cures for humanity.
Great history in it as well.
Narration is great. Many facts about all the different people in all the different countries working on stopping bacterial infections. Great characterization of all the people. I like how many points are backed up by actual journal entries of the person being talked about.
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