- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 22, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198727518
- ISBN-13: 978-0198727514
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spitting Blood: The history of tuberculosis 1st Edition
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"Helen Bynum has written a book not only full of diverting asides but also of urgent importance."
--Richard Horton, Guardian 17/11/2012
"[A] well-researched and immensely readable history."
--BBC History Magazine
"A very comprehensively researched exposition on tuberculosis...beautifully written...[and] thoroughly accessible to a wide readership."
--Times Higher Education Supplement
About the Author
Helen Bynum, Freelance historian
Helen Bynum is a freelance historian of medicine and a former researcher for Wellcome. She is the author of Tropical Medicine in the 20th century. Together with Bill Bynum, they have edited the award winning Dictionary of Medical Biography (5 vols).
Top customer reviews
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A few pros and cons:
Pros: The book is well-organized. I never felt "lost" in the timeline of this history of tuberculosis. It also explains in great detail the various phases of tuberculosis treatment, beginning with some of the more ridiculous so-called remedies before the arrival of modern medicine, progressing through the sanitarium phase, and ending with some of the modern approaches to the disease and the influence of drug resistance in modern treatment. The author also discusses the changing perception of tuberculosis, including the periods of time when TB or TB-like symptoms were considered almost fashionable and the role of TB in the eugenics movement.
Cons: Like I said above, pretty dry and a little too technical. I am not a medical professional, and while I found the book to be understandable, some of the nuances of the disease or the development of a TB antibiotic were extremely boring to me. (And I do not bore easily - I have read other books about disease and have largely found the science to be interesting, but this time I couldn't muster up a lot of excitement for it.) In fairness, part of the reason the book and the science discussion felt boring to me may be due to the fact that TB is a chronic disease and not usually acute, so the the disease tends to be protracted, whereas other illnesses I have read about (ebola, smallpox) are shorter-lived but very intense.
Another con is that the editing (on the Kindle version at least) was a little lacking. I noticed a lot of typos, which I found disappointing for a ~$14 Kindle book.
And the last con: There is only a very brief mention of XDRTB (Extensively Drug Resistant TB), which is the latest major stumbling block in the fight against TB. This book was published in 2012, and XDRTB has been a confirmed problem for many years. I thought it deserved more than a mention in the epilogue, especially since it is a problem that stems from people not completing the prolonged treatments required for the effective management of TB.
Overall, this is a good book if you are interested in the history of tuberculosis. It does not contain a lot of anecdotes from people who have had the disease and is instead largely focused on the evolution of treatment.
This book attempts to cover TB throughout history. The descriptions of the Greek 'humours' and how that medical outlook influenced early treatments can be difficult at times. However, the analysis is very useful in understanding Victorian and early 20th century approaches to the disease.
A thoroughly illuminating read.