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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 2006

This comprehensive and gripping narrative covers all the challenges, characters, and controversies in America's relentless struggle against polio. Funded by philanthropy and grassroots contributions, Salk's killed-virus vaccine (1954) and Sabin's live-virus vaccine (1961) began to eradicate this dreaded disease.

Author David M. Oshinsky, a multiple New York Times Notable Book winner and University of Texas professor, is a leading American political and cultural historian.

©2005 David M. Oshinsky (P)2007 Recorded Books

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  • Overall

Memorable History

The Pulitzer Prize for history 2006, it is life and times of those involved and their legacy to American culture, science, and medicine, warts and all. The petty behaviors as well as the great accomplishments are given diligent study. I can highly recommend this to any interested in American history of twentieth century. Discussion of the disease itself and the science involved in the development of the vaccines is secondary to the story. If you enjoyed Thomas Hager's Demon Under the Microscope, or John Berry's The Great Influenza, you will like this.

Jonathan Hogan's narration is good but not memorable, of course the book does not lend itself to acting skills.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 07-22-08

Wonderful

I remember so many of these events that it almost makes me feel old. Yet as an acknowledgement of this story as history, it does cover one hundred years. So I shouldn't feel too old. :-) My mother campaigned to get a municipal pool built in order to stop the spread of polio. There is a plague commemorating her efforts on that pool today. I work with someone who was diagnosed with Post-polio syndrome.

Enough of my reminiscences... this book is just wonderful. It is anything but a dry history story. Nor is it a dry medical text. But admittingly, it is not a novel either, although it reads much like one in several areas.

Through this book you will learn about this disease, about philanthropic crusades, about research and ethics, and about the people intimatley involved in it all. The truth of this story is all told so well and narrated just as it should be.

I usually listen only in the car. But for this title, I found myself listening every time I was alone in the house as well. And I was just as sad when this book ended as I have been with some of my favorite novels. This is well worth the purchase.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I was part of this story!

Having been in one of the test groups, it was very interesting to read the back-story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • Eagle, ID, United States
  • 09-17-13

Told the American Polio story as never before.

What did you love best about Polio?

As one of the children receiving either the shots in 1954 or 1955 and knowing first-hand the hard decisions my father made each summer as to whether my sister and I would be allowed to swim, I found this book to be one of the best non-fiction offerings I have read in a long time. It is so good and so filled with facts that I am leaving it on my iTouch so as to give it another read next month.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • S.
  • 10-21-11

Great story -

This is a fascinating story - and while it is a bit long, I was enthralled by the story. The narrator was "C" grade, but the story is compelling and worth every minute.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Ambitious Medical Historical

This ambitious medical historical managed to keep the human element of the story in the forefront. The narrator was scholarly, but never boring. I always appreciate the opportunity to continue learning about medical history, as the retrospective gives me background for making my personal medical choices in todays quickly evolving world of medical choices.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Linda
  • Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
  • 08-21-07

Wonderful health history!

I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing book! We should never forget the endelible mark that has been left on our past from this disease!

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Another superb audiobook

I admit I might be biased. I contracted polio in 1952, at two years of age, in one of the biggest epidemic years before the vaccine. Many surgeries later, I'm still upright and grateful for that, although with enough handicaps to keep me humble.

A gripping story from the beginning of the book, I felt the panic that parents dealt with during the polio years, as I had heard my mom tell me about the widespread fears of parents during those years.

When we become complacent about health issues that used to terrify human beings, it's worth taking the time to read this book. It reminds me of how much we take for granted with our health. My kids have no idea what polio was and did to so many human beings. Many young parents do not want to immunize their children.

This book provides a searing look into our early 20th century American history of health related diseases. I highly recommend it as well as other books by this author. A history lesson amidst a story of America.

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  • Story

Fascinating

This Registered Dietitian and her Microbiologist husband (both born in the 50's) truly enjoyed this audiobook - the science, the history, and the "my parents must have been scared to death of this thing I have never had to fear in my lifetime" moments. Such thorough research but not dry at all - fascinating listen!
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  • Overall

comprehensive is am understatement

This book is a great and interesting read. Provided a wealth of information on FDR, March of Dimes, Saulk, Sabin and much more.