- Publisher: Berkley Books
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000LMPL60
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,233,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. For children today, the word "polio" means little more than a series of shots, a mundane part of health care. Fifty years ago, however, polio was a dark shadow that arrived every summer, a deep fear hanging over every child and parent. Every year, the disease left tens of thousands of children crippled, paralyzed or, worse, reliant on an iron lung to aid them in breathing. Time magazine senior writer Kluger, coauthor of the bestselling book that was the basis for the movie Apollo 13, tells how polio was beaten 50 years ago in one of the triumphs of modern medicine. The narrative naturally centers on Jonas Salk, whose lab developed the first polio vaccine, but this is by no means a simple biography. Kluger is best when describing science as a team enterprise, and this account offers a keen understanding of the vast machine of people and resources mobilized to combat polio. The book is well researched and accessible, made all the more tense and gripping by the author's depiction of the pre-vaccine world—by describing what it was like to live in fear of polio, Kluger reminds us how joyous and heroic an event its conquest was. B&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
*Starred Review* Kluger begins his riveting account of the battle against the viral crippler in 1916, with Dora Salk worrying about her infant son's susceptibility during the first severe polio epidemic. Jonas Salk became not a victim but the slayer of polio, though Franklin D. Roosevelt's disabling 1921 bout with the virus and his inspiration of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis were crucial to Salk's realization of one of modern medicine's finest achievements. Roosevelt's subsequent prestige as president powered the NFIP's fund-raising juggernaut, and its gleanings funded the long process of finding a safe, effective vaccine, including Salk's Pittsburgh labs. From early on, researchers fiercely debated the respective merits of live-virus and killed-virus vaccines. Salk, who had already helped make the flu vaccine, advocated killed-virus vaccine, considering the risk of contracting polio from its ostensible prophylactic--never completely avoidable with any live virus, however weakened--intolerable. Of course, Salk succeeded, but shortly after, so did his principal live-virus opponent, Albert Sabin. Such is the plotline that Kluger masterfully fills out with sketches of the many players, crossroads incidents, and scientific politicking (in which Sabin definitely comes out smelling other than rosy) in the intense search for the weapon that would kill polio. Can't-put-it-down medical-science history. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Top customer reviews
Despite the relatively dry topic of medical research, this story manages to be suspenseful and riveting. Kluger’s masterful account of the culminating press conference in which the results of the first nationwide implementation of the vaccine were announced—a press conference!!—is the unlikely emotional highpoint of the narrative. Additionally, the history and anecdotes of how polio affected both the national consciousness and individuals while it was raging around the nation is incredibly insightful for those of us who did not live through it.
The parts of Kluger’s account that elevated it from four to five stars include his descriptions of the non-medical/scientific aspects of Salk’s work: the impact of professional competitive behavior among researchers; the importance of good, competent publicity; the role that an advocacy organization can play to organize scientific communities and direct their work; how policy makers (read: politicians) can unnecessarily complicate the work through well-meaning ignorance; and the bureaucratic and manufacturing issues that both hindered and quickly produced the vaccine needed to distribute nationally.
It can be argued that Salk’s life and work are described through rose-colored glasses, but this really doesn’t detract from the story. If anything, his story should be a reminder to all of us of the many, many anonymous medical researchers throughout the world who are living honorable lives while toiling away, mostly unsuccessfully, to find cures and treatments for countless human maladies. That, ultimately, is the value of this story.
To me as on outsider, the world of science seems like it should be very fact-based and black and white. The more I read about the history of science, however, the more I learn how far that is from the truth. Some reviews complain this book doesn't have enough of the science of vaccination or epidemiology, but I think Kluger's decision to focus his story specifically on the politics of gaining acceptance within the scientific community for a brilliant idea makes a great book.
Kluger lays out the entire process of funding, scientific conferences, personality conflicts and personal hierarchy within scientific circles. It's brilliant in that it shows both the strengths and the weaknesses of the system. Further, I found reading the book caused me to take stock of my own preconceived notions and thought processes to think about what great new ideas I might be ignoring because they didn't fit my own preconceived notions.
A great book for anyone who is interested in understanding a little more about what goes on behind the scenes in scientific circles, or who would like to understand the process by which the Salk vaccine was vetted and developed.
to deal with the date fairly.
Most recent customer reviews
A-lot of the five star reviews are fake. Take a look for yourself.