- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; 63973rd edition (August 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400082145
- ISBN-13: 978-1400082148
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 116 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug Paperback – August 28, 2007
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“Fascinating . . . A rousing, valuable contribution to the history of medicine.”
-Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
"A well-told tale of trail-blazing science."
"This is a grand story, and Mr. Hager tells it well...one can easily imagine 'The Demon Under the Microscope,' like 'Microbe Hunters' before it, inspiring in young, idealistic readers the enthusiasm for medical research and the zeal for healing that generates great physicians."
-Wall Street Journal
"Surprisingly entertaining...[Hager's] enthusiasm for the search for a 'magic bullet' drug in the early 20th century is infectious. He convincingly credits sulfa drugs for some of the most revolutionary and catastrophic moments in medicine. And anecdotes about famous people affected- from Calvin Coolidge to Eleanor Roosevelt- are narrative spoonfuls of sugar."
"Grips the reader from the first paragraph...a story of dedication, luck, tragedy and triumph that's still relevant today."
"Hager, a biographer of Linus Pauling, does a remarkable job of transforming material fit for a graduate biology seminar into highly entertaining reading. He knows that lay readers need plenty of personality and local color, and his story is rich with both. This yarn prefigures the modern rush for corporate pharma patents; it is testament to Hager's skills that the inherently unsexy process of finding the chemicals that might help conquer strep is as exciting an account of the hunt for a Russian submarine."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Veteran science and medical writer Thomas Hager is the author of three books, including Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling, and his work has appeared in publications ranging from Reader’s Digest to Medical Tribune. A former director of the University of Oregon Press, contributing editor to American Health, and correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association, he lives in Eugene, Oregon.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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My only complaint is that the book title implies a look into the development of antibiotics in general, where in reality, it only recounts the development of sulfa alone. There is only passing reference to Fleming and penicillin.
All in all, a fascinating book that should be required reading for all medical students as well as physicians and anyone interested in how we arrived in the modern medical era we are in today.
In the first three chapters, Hager weaves stories of battlefield medicine from before the discovery from the French Revolution to World War One. The science of bacteriology began immediately before and during the First World War in which soldiers living in earthworks and trenches could die and without even be wounded. It was a world without antibiotics. In Germany, Gerhard Domagk and his colleagues at Bayer Corporation worked constantly to identify which microscopic bacteria caused tuberculosis, malaria, and blood poisoning. Discovered in 1932, sulfa became the first of the modern antibiotics.
Hager addresses the biology and chemistry of the discovery through the competitive personalities, the national environments, and the aggressive international marketplace. Patent wars, lawsuits, dying children of U.S. Presidents, a nearly dead Winston Churchill after the Teheran Conference move the story forward. Research chemists, laboratory mice, and fortunate and unfortunate accidents may be mundane, but not when the Nazi's are looking over shoulders and monitoring research labs. Nazi chieftan Reinhard Heydrich was wounded by Czech assassins and, due to a possible misuse of sulfa, dies. To find out if sulfa was the cause, Ravenbruck concentration camp's laboratory conducts infection and sulfa studies on women prisoners.
For those who have seen Saving Private Ryan, recall the episode where the medic is wounded in the assault on the Nazi communication post. He wound was dusted with white powder, a sulfa drug. Demon Under the Microscope is a well paced, personality driven suspense story of scientific discovery. There are no photographs in the book; it would have been enhanced by portraits of the main characters. On the other hand, your mind supplies the visuals from Hager's descriptions.
Hager is an excellent writer, bringing in the detail and explaining the science in a way that makes the facts spring to life. A good gift for an aspiring med student or school library...