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Spitting Blood: The history of tuberculosis Hardcover – 22 Nov 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (22 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199542058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199542055
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 3.3 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I started out as an academic lecturing in medical history at the University of Liverpool after reading human sciences and the history of medicine (MSc & PhD) at University College London and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. Now I'm a freelance writer, editor and lecturer based in Suffolk.

Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis ('a cracking good read', Andrew Marr, Start the Week, Radio 4, 17 December 2012) has received fine reviews in Nature, The Guardian (Richard Horton) and was the THE book of the week for 13 December 2012 (Sir Richard Evans).

I talked with Philip Dodd on Radio 3's Nightwaves (19 December 2012) about the book and the history and current face of tuberculosis, listen to the podcast at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p9hrk

The Science Special edition of Start the Week featuring the book is also available http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/stw

Product Description

Review

Helen Bynum has written a book not only full of diverting asides but also of urgent importance. (Richard Horton, Guardian)

About the Author

Helen Bynum is a freelance historian and author of Tropical Medicine in the 20th Century. Together with William Bynum, she edited Great Discoveries in Medicine and the award winning Dictionary of Medical Biography (5 vols.).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Neasa MacErlean on 27 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The most accessible part of this book is the first part which describes the slow, painful and brave death of George Orwell to TB. The author died just as streptomycin was being developed but the anti-biotic which saved millions did not work for the great British writer. After that touching opening episode, "Spitting Blood" combines fascinating facts with a dull and often confusing delivery. So, if you persevere, you will discover that quacks dominated the diagnosis and treatment of TB for most of our history until huge strides were made after the French physician Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope (useful for "hearing" cavities in the lungs) nearly 200 years ago. The odd person had made pertinent contributions before - such as the Italian Girolamo Fracastro 500 years ago whose ideas were dismissed and largely forgotten for centuries. In the last century a few individuals made huge differences in the recognition and treatment of TB - including the man who set up the specialist TB centre in Edinburgh and the New York authorities who researched the problem, discovering that the Irish immigrants were three times as likely to die from TB as Polish Jew emigres. Then, when the world's scientists realised that they could develop vaccines and other treatments, huge investments were made to reduce the spread and potency of the disease.
Along the way, however, TB was used in racist ways by the SS and by organisations including the Newark-based Prudential Insurance Company which all but gave up insuring blacks as they were seen as posing far higher TB mortality risks. Of course, the book raises many questions about where we go from here, now that TB is being diagnosed in Britain again and as we battle against other bacteria that seem to defy standard treatment by anti-biotics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Thomas on 2 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Comprehensive and scholarly account of TB through the ages illustrated with cases histories. Progress of treatment complicated by politics.

David Thomas
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By PatBat on 3 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Before it became known as tuberculosis, consumption was seen as a romantic disease with Chopin, Keats, the Bronte sisters and many others dying from it. Their lingering deaths, supposedly responsible for their creativity, were however, extremely unpleasant. Helen Bynum’s marvellous book describes the history of the disease, the attempted cures in expensive sanatoria and the identification of the bacillus that causes TB. Preventative measures such as vaccination of children, mass X-rays to discover people who might have the disease, and an array of drugs all brought down the incidence of the disease and the World became complacent. Having bottomed out, however, the disease is once again spreading and becoming a major killer. This is partly because of the weakening effects on infected people of HIV/Aids and partly because of growing resistance to the previously effective drugs. Helen Bynum describes the controversies, the successes and the failures in curbing TB with compassion and attention to the fascinating detail. A superb book about an important aspect of the history of medicine.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melanie U on 21 April 2013
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Very interesting book. Full of facts but not a smooth read. Learned a lot, and would recommend to someone who likes factual books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A1 service. Very happy with my purchase.
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