With rivalries, reversals, and a race against time, the struggle to eradicate polio is one of the great tales of modern history. It begins with the birth of Jonas Salk, shortly before one of the worst polio epidemics in United States history. At the time, the disease was a terrifying enigma: striking from out of nowhere, it afflicted tens of thousands of children in this country each year and left them, literally overnight, paralyzed, and sometimes at death's door.
Salk was in medical school just as a president crippled by the disease, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was taking office, and providing the impetus to the drive for studies on polio. By the early 1950s, Salk had already helped create an influenza vaccine, and was hot on the trail of the polio virus. He was nearly thwarted, though, by the politics of medicine and by a rival researcher eager to discredit his proposed solution. Meanwhile, in 1952, polio was spreading in record numbers, with 57,000 cases in the United States that summer alone.
In early 1954, Salk was weighing the possibility of trials of a not-yet-perfected vaccine against, as the summer approached, the prospect of thousands more children being struck down by the disease. The results of the history-making trials were announced at a press conference on April 12, 1955: "The vaccine works." The room, and an entire nation, erupted in cheers for this singular medical achievement.
Salk became a cultural hero and icon for a whole generation. Now, at the fiftieth anniversary of the first national vaccination program, and as humanity is tantalizingly close to eradicating polio worldwide, comes this unforgettable chronicle. Salk's work was an unparalleled achievement, and it makes for a magnificent listen.
©2005 Jeffrey Kluger; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
"The book is well researched and accessible, made all the more tense and gripping by the author's depiction of the pre-vaccine world." (Publishers Weekly)
Who would have thought that the story of the development of a vaccine could be so fascinating? Obviously Jeffrey Kluger did, and he did a wonderful job of weaving all of the components of this story together. One of the best stories I have heard on audible.com. I give it my highest recommendation.
I loved this book! It has just the right amount of technical detail, but doesn't overwhelm. Jeffrey Kluger is an excellent science writer. I also found interesting that the "politics" of medical research were similar in the first half of the 20th century to what they are now. I recommend this book to all who are interested in how this horrible disease of children was finally conquered.
This was a well-written and well-read book that did not drag in the least. It will particularly appeal if you enjoy science and experimental design. I think it would be almost as good even if you have other bends. The human side of the story is enjoyable while the significance of the medical breakthrough against Polio is noteworthy. The tie-ins with history events in the US with FDR and other issues in the 30's, 40's, and 50's brought the book home to me.
Say something about yourself!
This is one of the best books I have listened to in years. The story of Salk and the polio vaccine is really outstanding.
"Splendid Solution" is a powerful story of the development of the polio vaccine and a reminder of what life was like before its availability. Imagine that every year as spring rolls around, so does the dread that by the time school begins in the fall, one or more of your children could be paralyzed or dead. There was tremendous fear and the numbers of families affected every year surprised me. The science is understandably explained and the personal stories quite compelling. We take a lot for granted.
Love to read. Mysteries, history, romance, biography, current events, science, classic fiction. No vampires. No zombies. No self-help. Find me on GoodReads and BookLikes.
Have to choose a title for a school book report? Look no further. I stayed up well past my bedtime listening to this book (yes, even mommies have bedtimes); I was absolutely fascinated by it. Science and history rolled into one.
Kluger does a wonderful job of making the story about more than just the bench research; in fact, there is actually very little science in the book. This is a story about how a dreaded disease attacked people and how people - laymen and scientists -- pulled together (and apart) to conquer the disease.
Get this book. You will not be disappointed.
Very close to the top. I've read lots of good books, fiction and nonfiction. This was a remarkable story...well written and an enjoyable listen. Highly recommended.
The description of the press conference when the field study results of the vaccine were released to the public.
He makes the characters come alive. Something not possible when reading.
I read the book whenever I had a chance...in the car, working out in the gym, and at bedtime. One helluva a great book.
Noticing the early vexing for profit by pharmaceutical companies even in the 1940's and 50's
The first test of a sucessful vaccine
In Splendid Solution, Jeffrey Kluger tells a thorough history of the life and career of Jonas Salk and the development of the Flue and Polio vaccines that he was instrumental in delivering to the world. I found this to be a fascinating story that shows both the technical challenges for developing vaccines as well as the confrontational and political issues involved. The scientists involved are shown to be more of a collection of domineering and passionate partisans as opposed to a group of rational technologists. My only complaint for the story is that the level of detail in describing certain events seems to be excessive, as in the sequence that reports and VIP’s entered the Polio vaccine trial announcement ceremony. That said, Splendid Solutions tells an important story that saved perhaps millions of shattered lives over the last 50 years. I give Splendid Solution a good read.
This book relates a truly interesting episode in recent history, and does an outstanding job illustrating how the medical scientific process can really work -- and how public perception can be pretty far out of line with medical reality.
The author's work leaves much to be desired. The book too often focuses annoyingly on useless details, such as whether coffee was served, or where a camera was placed in a lecture hall; yet it skims far too lightly over issues of character: why key people in the story behaved as they did.
I found myself playing the book at 1.5x or ever 2x speed to zoom through portions where unimportant details were conveyed for minutes at a time; yet I was hungry for more about the key players' difficulties, joys, and formative experiences -- and the utterly unexplained motivations for some of the biggest conflicts described.
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