From the Inside Flap
From Greek philosophers to Russian spies, poisons have a long and colorful history. Easy to obtain and administer, they are often hard to detect or trace. They kill, but they also smooth wrinkles, calm nerves, provide visions, and cure illnesses. The history of poison is also the history of medicine, and
it plays a vital role in the histories of science, industry, and agriculture. From arsenic
and belladonna to thallium and Zyklon B, Poison explores the nature of toxicity and reveals how poisons intersect with our everyday lives.
In a compelling blend of fascinating and informative text complemented by evocative illustrations and engaging sidebars, Joel Levy uncovers history’s most notorious poisoners and their victims—from Cesare Borgia and Isaac Newton to Erwin Rommel and Saddam Hussein. His enlightening case studies provide easily digestible profiles of specific substances, whether the elusive potion behind the death of Socrates or cocaine. Learn the differences among poisons, toxins, and venoms; the five stages of poisoning;
how many bee stings it takes to kill someone; and what you should really do if a poisonous snake bites you.
Take a good dose of Poison for an experience you will never forget.
From the Back Cover
Discover the secret history of poison and how it shapes our world.
From Cleopatra to Mary Ann Cotton, from cone snails to cocaine, this lavishly illustrated book will take you on a fascinating journey through the mysterious world of potions, magical herbs, and psychoactive preparations—substances at once alluring and terrifying. Poison captures them in all their complexity, describing the many roles they have played in history and culture, science and religion, medicine and murder.
Ergot mold, which grows on rye and other grains, causes convulsions and hallucinations. Cited in the witchcraft panic of 1691 in Salem, Massachusetts, it is a precursor in the synthesis of LSD.
Jane Stanford, cofounder of Stanford University, died of strychnine poisoning.
The gas chamber was first used in Nevada in the 1924 execution of Gee Jon, a Chinese-American gangster. Lethal injection is now the world’s most popular form of execution.
Nicotine, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, is also a highly potent alkaloid neurotoxin that was used widely as an insecticide.
The botulinum toxin is the most potent known to science. A little more than one cup would be enough to kill every human on the planet.