Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicin... and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Breakthrough! on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World (FT Press Science) [Hardcover]

Jon Queijo
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

List Price: $27.99
Price: $19.21 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
You Save: $8.78 (31%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 6 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Want it Monday, July 14? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $13.99  
Hardcover $19.21  

Book Description

March 7, 2010 0137137486 978-0137137480 1

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. In Breakthrough! How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World, Jon Queijo tells the hidden stories behind 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.

Frequently Bought Together

Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World (FT Press Science) + Custom Enrichment Module: The History Handbook
Price for both: $63.98

Buy the selected items together
  • Custom Enrichment Module: The History Handbook $44.77

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.

About the Author

Jon Queijo has been writing about science, medicine, and mental health for more than 25 years, in positions that include senior medical writer in the pharmaceutical industry, staff writer for the New England Journal of Medicine consumer publication Weekly Briefings, and staff writer for Bostonia magazine. His freelance articles have appeared in various publications, including Brain Work (The Dana Foundation), Psychology and Personal Growth, Environment, and Science Digest.

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: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book until the last breakthrough 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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
72 of 90 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nine Breakthroughs and a Breakdown April 20, 2010
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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking 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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Alternative Medicine one of the greatest discoveries of all time, Pass...
Although parts of this book are interesting, as a volume it doesn't measure up as a scholarly work of the history of medicine. Read more
Published 19 months ago by JWH
4.0 out of 5 stars Great expository read
I love reading articles about science and medicine, especially medical history, so I was excited to read "Breakthrough! Read more
Published 20 months ago by A. Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars For the medical history buffs only
I love history and I love the history of ideas. That being said, I can't say that I loved this book.

It is written like a very dry, very well-researched dissertation. Read more
Published on November 17, 2011 by Nina Abbott
5.0 out of 5 stars More school information
As usual, this purchase was an addition for extra informatin for classes, and Amazon came through with ease and efficiency at a great cost for me. Thank You Amazon for everything. Read more
Published on November 14, 2011 by Skie
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't agree about "Alternative Med" as a breakthru, Still a great book
Alternative med appraches like Homeopathy remain unproven and lumping them with great discoveries spoils the tone a bit. Read more
Published on September 10, 2011 by Atul V
4.0 out of 5 stars medical discoveries
It seems that all great discoveries (medical and otherwise), have a story behind them which reveals the discovery to be part hard work, part inspiration, and part luck. Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Strange "Milestone" Presentation Detracts From Educational and...
Author Queijo has collected a vast amount of information about the scientific discoveries that preceded, or were loosely connected to, important changes in medicine (the... Read more
Published on July 18, 2011 by Lynne E.
5.0 out of 5 stars Unraveling the Mysteries of Life and Health: It's All Here!
Jon Queijo has written an insightful, eye-opening, thoroughly researched book about the top ten medical discoveries or practices which we often take for granted but which have... Read more
Published on June 15, 2011 by Erika Borsos
4.0 out of 5 stars Smartly written history of medical discovery
This book started a little slowly for me, with too many digressions and seemingly lack of a cohesive thread.

But as I continued, the writing became smoother. Read more
Published on April 28, 2011 by Gina Pera
3.0 out of 5 stars Nine breakthroughs, one uncertainty
I enjoyed most of this book. However, there is a distinct difference between the first 9 breakthroughs, and the 10th "breakthrough".

The first 9 chapters are excellent. Read more
Published on April 20, 2011 by Ryan
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category