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The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat : The Story of the Penicillin Miracle (John MacRae Books) 2nd Print Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
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From The New England Journal of Medicine
Copyright © 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If you know one name related to penicillin, it's probably Alexander Fleming. Forget Fleming! He made an observation about the mold "lysing" bacterial colonies but couldn't figure out how to do anything with that observation. It was Howard Florey and team working in London with German bombs raining down on them who are the real heroes here. And how strange to read that some of the team traveled here to the US for help in scaling up. How different science was then ... Florey thought it was "unseemly" to try to grab credit for an achievement that would benefit millions, and well, that's why we don't remember his name today.
The author deserves our gratitude for bringing this story to light.
When I got around to reading the book, what a pleasant surprise! It is extremely readable, well written, and generally easy to follow (despite the many characters and numerous twists and turns of the plot), and it is meticulously researched and annotated. There are quite a few minor scientific inaccuracies, which do not seriously affect the story but could have been corrected by a competent scientific editor.
Other reviewers have covered the story pretty well, so I will focus on only a couple of points. The author suggests that Florey has been somehow neglected by history, but--come on!--he shared the Nobel Prize, was elected to the Royal Society (became president even), knighted, etc. Scientists seldom if ever get more attention than that! If you put yourself in the position of the Nobel committee, it was pretty obvious that the discovery and development of penicillin were worthy of the Prize; the problem was in assigning credit to individuals. It is hard to imagine how they could have justified awarding the Prize to Florey, but not Fleming, and vice versa. It was Fleming's publication, then about ten years old, that caught the attention of Florey and his team, after all.Read more ›