3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 1999
I'm always in awe of the great science pioneers that have gone before us. This brief book provides a peak into the thoughts and methods of one of those pioneers. As long as the reader keeps in mind the literary style of the time as well as the level of maturity of scientific experimentation, they will find this book to be inspiring and useful. I especially recommend this book to future scientists and those interested in the history of science.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2009
To say that Edward Jenner's "Vaccination Against Smallpox" was a dull read is comparable to saying that hell is a bit warm. While trudging through this oeuvre, I could not help but imagine myself doing more enjoyable things--like punching myself repeatedly, or walking through a bed of hot coals, or even sitting through a Dane Cook routine...Well, that's taking it too far, maybe not the last one. I consider myself a proponent of primary sources, but my point is not to make the mistake of reading this word for word. Jenner is very thorough in documenting all of his cases, but they are more or less the same. Furthermore, the deluge of letters from his peers is redundant and not at all necessary even in the rhetorical sense.
Nonetheless, the importance of this work should not be diminished. In the context of medical science in the 18th century, this dissertation was a breakthrough; it employs many of the fixtures of modern experimental science we take for granted today: objectivity, theory, and most importantly, reproducibility. Jenner constructs a convincing argument that is grounded upon fact and direct observation despite the lack of strict controls (as is seen from his confusion about the source of Vaccinia) and rigorous statistical analysis. Unfortunately, it has none of the minimalist laconism that is apparent in the slim majority of the scientific literature today. "Vaccination" was probably conceived to convince Jenner's peers that vaccination was indeed a viable and safer alternative to Variolation. That purpose today is moot, since smallpox has been eradicated, but it is worth skimming to gain knowledge of the context of Jenner's work.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2014
Book was exactly as described, but i ordered it two weeks before class and it only arrived halfway through the first week
2 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2011
While this book is a mind-numbingly dull read, it is a wonderful insight into just what a foundation of sand the entire vaccine industry has been build upon. It is incredulous to me how any sane person of the time could read this and conclude that a small study of 13 people, with no control patients and no patient follow-up could possibly prove anything. The proof seems little more than jabbing someone in the arm with some puss from a cow's udder, seeing an inflamation at the inoculation site and declaring the patient to have life-long immunity from smallpox.
Of course, Jenner's various claims have been disproved numerous times, so why is this fabled tale still the bedrock of our belief in vaccination? - probably because so few have actually read it.