The discovery of penicillin in 1928 ushered in a new age in medicine. But it took a team of Oxford scientists headed by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain four more years to develop it as the first antibiotic, and the most important family of drugs in the twentieth century. At once the world was transformed - major bacterial scourges such as blood poisoning and pneumonia, scarlet fever and diphtheria, gonorrhea and syphilis were defeated as penicillin helped to foster not only a medical revolution but a sexual one as well. In his wonderfully engaging book, acclaimed author Eric Lax tells the real story behind the discovery and why it took so long to develop the drug. He reveals the reasons why credit for penicillin was misplaced, and why this astonishing achievement garnered a Nobel Prize but no financial rewards for Alexander Fleming, Florey, and his team. (Broadcast Date: May 2, 2004)
Want to listen to previous editions of C-SPAN's Booknotes? You can find past programs by clicking on matching edition under periodicals.
(P) and ©2004 C-SPAN