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Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World (FT Press Science) 1st Edition

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0137137480
ISBN-10: 0137137486
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Editorial Reviews


"This very well-written, cogent, and accessible book by freelance writer Queijo will be an important resource, especially for a lay audience. Each of the ten medical discoveries mentioned in the title is really a chapter delimiting the history of medicine. Chapters range from The World's First Physician: Hippocrates and the Discovery of Medicine' to 'A Return to Tradition: The Rediscovery of Alternative Medicine.' This book deserves a very wide readership. Especially useful for general readers, it also will be applicable in undergraduate education across a surprising range of disciplines." Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates, general readers, and researchers/faculty. Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

From the Back Cover

"A wonderfully clear account of the great moments in medicine and a powerful reminder of the possibility of improvement in the fight against illness."  --Matt Ridley, author ofGenome


10 World-Changing Revolutions in Medicine...and the Remarkable Human Discoveries That Made Them Possible


•     The unforgettable life-or-death stories behind antibiotics, vaccines, DNA, X-rays, and more

•     What happened, how it happened, and what it means to you today

•     A colorful cast of characters whose discoveries were often driven not only by personal tragedy, curiosity, and hard work, but petty bickering, dumb luck, and a healthy dose of humor

•     For anyone interested in science, medicine, and beyond...


Why are you alive right now?Chances are, you owe your life to one of the remarkable medical discoveries in this book. Maybe it was vaccines. Or antibiotics. Or X-rays. Revolutionary medical breakthroughs like these haven't just changed the way we treat disease, they've transformed how we understand ourselves and the world we live in. InBreakthrough!, Jon Queijo tells the hidden stories behind 10 of history's most amazing medical discoveries. This isn't dry history: These are life-and-death mysteries uncovered, tales of passionate, often-mocked individuals who stood their ground and were proven right. From germs to genetics, the ancient Hippocrates to the cutting edge, these are stories that have changed the world-and, quite likely, saved your life. 


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Product Details

  • Series: FT Press Science
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (March 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137137486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137137480
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Jeff VINE VOICE on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a strong book and could have been a great one.

The basic idea is to outline how the ten greatest medical breakthroughs came about and the impact each of them had on humanity. Queijo is a fine writer and has a good eye for just how much detail he can include without losing the attention of non-scientists. In fact, I think this book can be read by people as young as their early teenage years.

Queijo has kept the book just about as jargon free as he can, and he has a great ear for the facts you think you know but don't. As an example, everyone knows how Joseph Lister, returning from vacation, discovered a mold in a dirty petri dish that killed the surrounding germs. That mold was penicillin.

However, what you don't know is that there are many different types of penicillin, and only one has the magic anti-baterial properties. You also don't know that there was a particular and improbable temperature change required for the penicillin to be effective at all. Finally, you don't know that there was no penicillin spores of the effective type anywhere on the floor of Lister's lab, so how did it get there? Queijo knows it all and he tells the story well.

He also knows why inventor's discovered effective anesthetic agents a half century before they were deployed, and why no one thought it was worth following up. Or that Gregor Mendel went to his deathbed knowing the importance of his genetic experiments, but was unable to convince anyone else of same.

These stories are all important and told with a riveting pace that reminds one of one of the finer whodunits.
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72 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Hall on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author describes what he believes are the 10 greatest discoveries in medicine that have saved millions, etc. 9 of them are uncontroversial discoveries that have been on other top-10 lists, but his 10th choice is one that no other list of top discoveries has ever included. He realizes that, and even admits in his introduction that a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine refused to review his book because there is no such thing as alternative medicine, only treatments that work and treatments that don't. But he "respectfully disagrees."

Hippocrates' discovery that disease had natural causes, sanitation, germ theory, anesthesia, X-rays, vaccines, antibiotics, genetics, and treatments for mental disorders are all worthy candidates for the list. But Queijo ludicrously lists the "rediscovery of alternative medicine" as the tenth "great discovery." He presents no evidence (because there is no evidence) that alternative medicine has "saved millions" or that it has saved anyone. He doesn't realize that alternative medicine represents a betrayal of exactly the kind of rigorous scientific thinking and testing that led to all the other discoveries. His list of ten breakthroughs is actually a list of 9 breakthroughs and one breakdown.

He tells compelling human-interest stories about the discoveries. The complexities, the mis-steps, the near-misses, and the ups and downs make fascinating reading. He offers fascinating tidbits of historical information. He tells how, in the early days after the discovery of x-rays, Thomas Edison received a request to "Please send me one pound of X-rays and bill as soon as possible."

Most of the book is entertaining and informative, but in the chapter on alternative medicine, Queijo loses it entirely.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book provides an overview of the most important developments in the history of medical science. Queijo is a journalist with a longstanding interest in medicine. In this book, he selects 10 developments in medical history, describes how they came about and details their impact on public health. The developments Queijo chose for this project include Hippocrates and his approach to scientific medicine, sanitation, germ theory, anesthesia, X-rays, vaccines, antibiotics, genetics, psychoactive medications, and alternative health care. In each chapter, Queijo provides a brief description of the historical context in which the development or discovery was made, often including case histories, then he identifies a series of "milestones", illustrating that these historic developments were not instantaneous discoveries, but rather long, often vitriolic processes, in which a series of crucial clues had to be uncovered, discussed, and further researched before being accepted as scientific truths or proper practices. End material includes a listing of the milestones and a list of references for further reading.

I found this book quite interesting as well as informative. Queijo's descriptions of key medical discoveries, while brief, include background details that aren't as well known as the popular myths that have grown up around such stories as Fleming's accidental discovery of penicillin. What makes Queijo's accounts unique is that he stresses the long processes of discovery, and he emphasizes throughout the book that when evidence necessitating a paradigm shift is discovered, acceptance of the new ideas is not immediate, but rather takes many years and repeated efforts on the part of the researchers.
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