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The Demon Under The Microscope Audiobook

The Demon Under The Microscope

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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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    kate 11-09-10
    kate 11-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting topic, difficult to listen to"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Olga Billerica, MA, United States 10-24-10
    Olga Billerica, MA, United States 10-24-10
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    "Nice reading"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 08-13-10
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 08-13-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Excellent, Until the end"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug 06-25-10
    Doug 06-25-10 Member Since 2015

    Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Compelling narrative"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    igoriokas 06-21-10
    igoriokas 06-21-10 Member Since 2017
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    "good to know"

    Very interesting and informative.
    Good narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rachel Yakima, WA, United States 04-17-10
    rachel Yakima, WA, United States 04-17-10 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting and enjoyable listen"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Seattle, WA, United States 03-30-10
    Donald Seattle, WA, United States 03-30-10
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    "Fascinating mix of science, politics, and society"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blashy Québec, Canada 12-10-09
    Blashy Québec, Canada 12-10-09 Member Since 2016

    Membre since March 2008.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of my all time favorite books"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vince 10-16-09
    Vince 10-16-09
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    3
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    "factual and informative on many fronts"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 02-06-09
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 02-06-09 Member Since 2005

    mcubed33

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Curing the Incurable -- Great Story"

    Who would have guessed it was possible to build a fascinating history around chemical labs and medical pathologists? This book does all that and more. It added to my admiration and respect for my grandmothers (and their forebears) who faced the risk, among others, of mortal and incurable diseases every time they entered a hospital to deliver a baby. It made me realize how much we take for granted in modern medicine: the antibiotics that have erased the worries about pneumonia, TB, strep and other infections that were a life and death struggle as recently as the 1930's.

    The book fully explains the scientific history behind the discovery of the sulfa drugs by researchers at the Bayer firm in Germany. That took years of dedication and financial support, as well as some lucky hunches. The account keeps its interest by blending in personal stories of people who were cured by the new drugs (e.g., Franklin Roosevelt, Jr.) or otherwise impacted by them (e.g., the head of a "patent medicine" firm in Kentucky that quickly put out an elixir containing the drug that turned out to be poisonous).

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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