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The Demon Under The Microscope | [Thomas Hager]

The Demon Under The Microscope

The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic medication. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.
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Publisher's Summary

The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic medication. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.

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.

What the Critics Say

"Highly entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Snoodely 02-01-12
    Snoodely 02-01-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Almost like a novel!"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 05-13-15
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 05-13-15
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    "Enthralling story of the invention of antibiotics"
    Would you listen to The Demon Under The Microscope again? Why?

    Yes. this book was very well written and kept me interested all the way to the end.
    I want to listen to his next book about Nitrogen


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The break through with the dyes and how they we on the wrong track and accidentally discovered the solution.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I liked the intrigue about how the drug was mixed with the wrong chemical that caused the deaths, and the strengthening of the FDA


    Any additional comments?

    I liked the narrator allot and really got into this story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosalinda 04-17-15
    Rosalinda 04-17-15
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    "So interesting"

    This is really a very good book . It surpassed my expectations. I am going to listen to it again . The narrator has a good voice

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 03-21-15
    Matt 03-21-15
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    "Spectacular story and narration"

    This is beyond expectation, a thriller and informer. An enthralling experience, and narrated with the flair of a old time radio host. Buy it and learn.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 11-27-13
    Jan 11-27-13 Member Since 2011

    Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "Medical history's biggest step forward..."

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 02-21-13
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 02-21-13 Member Since 2012

    "The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Proof one person can change the world"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn Richmond, VA, USA 01-10-09
    Evelyn Richmond, VA, USA 01-10-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Captivating 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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 12-01-11
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 12-01-11 Member Since 2015

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An excellent read"

    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.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS 02-17-13
    DS 02-17-13 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WONDERFUL ON SO MANY LEVELS"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tomas Latham, NY, United States 01-21-13
    Tomas Latham, NY, United States 01-21-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "One of the best non-fiction books I've read"

    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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
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