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The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle
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The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  193 ratings  ·  29 reviews
"Admirable, superbly researched . . . perhaps the most exciting tale of science since the apple dropped on Newton's head."
--Simon Winchester, The New York Times

Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in his London laboratory in 1928 and its eventual development as the first antibiotic by a team at Oxford University headed by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1942 led t
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Holt Paperbacks (first published April 12th 2004)
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Bev
Very interesting, well written, the author brings in all the personalities involved with the discovery of penicillin. And those personalities made all the difference in the story. Alexander Fleming is credited with the discovery of the mold, which he did. But it was almost impossible to extract in a form that was potent for disease. Fleming gave up. Dr Howard W. Florey saw the potential and knew what kind of a team it would take to make it work. It was teamwork. Only 3 people received the Nobel ...more
Trudi Boyce
I found the story of the development of penicillin very interesting, and was surprised to realise how the development and availability of the drug was up against such odds,that it really was only by the perseverance of men like Florey and his team that we have benefitted from this drug in the past 60 odd years. No doubt the human element to the story and the insight to the men's personalities is mainly drawn from correspondence and the author's interviews with Heatley so although that could have ...more
Bill
When I was two, I fell (or was pushed by my brothers) off our piano bench. The result was a bout with osteomyelitis, and the cure was massive doses of penicillin - some 200 shots - in my ass, for which I still have the marks to prove my case to any disbelievers.

Thus I was drawn to this book - by Eric Lax, a fascinating true tale of the discovery of this wonder antibiotic. I'm always fascinating with books about the discovery of something - and this book rewards the reader with a marvelous story
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Brian
This is an excellent book that covers the development of Penicillin during world war II and the interwar years. Dr. Fleming was the first to discover the penicillin properties but never really was able to develop it. He would wind up with much of the credit and the Nobel Prize but the real work went to Dr. Florey and his research lab at oxford. They took the penicillin broth and turned it into the injections and powders that saved countless lives during World War II. It was American production t ...more
Madeline Benoit
While I am unlikely to reread this book, the author made this book both enjoyable and informative. The painstaking research is obvious and the author clearly put a great deal of effort into making this informative read a good one.

I am now a huge Florey fan as well ;-) what an interesting portrait of a little-known man of science.
Bookmarks Magazine

Eric Lax, biographer of Woody Allen and Paul Newman, tells a riveting tale of the uncelebrated in The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat. Critics generally praise his focus on the personalities behind the science, especially his treatment of Heatley, a heretofore-anonymous chemist who was passed over for the 1945 Nobel Prize won by Fleming, Florey, and Ernst Chain. Reviewers disagree about Lax's balance between hard scientific information and personal history; a few critics wished for more science at the

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Jeff Brown
This book is almost entirely biography and politics, and has almost no science. For example - the structure of Penicillin is never shown, and how it acts to actually kill bacteria is never discussed. But huge parts of the book are dedicated to politics around the Nobel prize, the challenges in getting funding, the life stories do the scientists involved. But not one sentence on why Penicillin actually works. It seems like the author set out to show that Florey and his team didn't get enough cred ...more
Michele
Mar 21, 2007 Michele rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in history
A well written account of the discovery of penicillin and how it was turned into the first viable antibiotic for widespread use against infections.
Intriguing story, that give due to those scientists whose invaluable work transformed penicillin into a usable antibiotic. History has credited Alexander Fleming with the discovery, but has neglected to elevate those scientists who actually figured out the secrets of how to turn the antibiotic properties of the mold into a usable drug.
The story's dram
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Lora
I set this book down for too long while reading others-- because it wasn't particularly gripping-- and now I've forgotten too much about the people and facts I've already read to keep going. It was very interesting in parts, mildly boring in others, but probably a decent book. I got nearly halfway through it.
Dan
Non Fiction is not really my thing. This book was pretty good. Lots of details about the people but the more interesting story is the the actual product development. Of course the argument over who deserved and or got most the credit is also interesting. I flew through it as I really could care less about some guys kids or some other guys wife and or mistress. The parts of the story as to how things actually (SOMEHOW) got done in the 1940s is pretty disturbing.
Bottom line, my boss gave it to me
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A.
This book tells the story of WW2 and the development of penicillin. Sounds boring, it's not. Eric Lax is a terrific story teller. When I first looked at this book I could not imagine how he was able to fill so many pages with one micro history story. Well, by the time I had finished reading it I did not want the book to end. It is a soap opera of characters and events. Absolutely great reading. I have read another book on the history of penicillin that was a yawner. This is a great book for anyo ...more
Eratosthenes
An inspiring story of how a few scientists in Oxford, England, during the Blitz invented the mechanism for purifying penicillin, using equipment made from scavenged parts and hand-blown glassware, and then performed the initial tests on a few brave human subjects. The chief scientist (Florey) then flew to America to convince the giant pharma's to produce the new antibiotic. Before war's end, America was producing enough to treat every wounded soldier. And all done without a patent.
Mills College Library
615.32956 L4259 2005
Rebecca
An excellent, if somewhat exhaustive account of the discovery and development of Penicillin.

I picked this up because I was interested in the science. I had to wade through a lot of passages about Alexander Fleming's athletic prowess, Howard Florey's marriage problems and Ernst Chains' personality issues.

Still, a very well researched book on a critical human discovery.
Marnie Cobb
Finally, the truth about penicilian and "it's" discovery. Very, very good. Science background not needed. A good insight into early day pharmaceutical sales/monies. A great triumph in an important drug discovery during WWII. The downfall: Could add new information regarding the overusage of antibiotic treatment, but there are other books that would apply this info.
Diana
Very interesting account of not so much the discovery of penicillin, but the monumental effort required by a somewhat overlooked group of scientists to scale-up production and test it during the shortages and frustrations of England during the second World War. Cheers to Florey, Chain, Heatley, the penicillin girls and others who brought us into the antibiotic era.
Pancha
This book was much harder to get into than I anticipated. Around chapter 8, the race to produce enough penicillin starts and things get interesting. But I still prefer Demon Under the Microscope, about the discovery of sulpha drugs.
Leanne
It is about the discovery of penicillin. It is nonfiction. It took me forever to get through but I was determined to finish it. The information was interesting but truthfully it was really boring in parts!
Claire S
My Mom's life is particularly much better than it would have been had it not been for penicillin, so there's that. Then, this sounds interesting.. looking forward to reading sometime!
Radhika Srinivas
very interesting story of the struggles in the discovery of penicillin.

"The use of life to hinder the life of organisms harmful to humans is a cornerstone of medicine as we know it."
Heather White
Oct 24, 2007 Heather White rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Buffs
I'd already read the account of Fleming's discovery of penicillin, so this was interesting to read the rest of it. It was also a surprisingly easy read, unlike some popular science books.
Wendy
This book gave me an appreciation of the work it took to make penicillin a viable antibiotic.
Sheetal


Interesting read of wartime in Britain and how research was conducted. Very dry
Fiona
Fascinating history on the discovery of penicillin. The answer is not just a Fleming :)
Megan
I love knowing this, that and the other. Very cool book about penicillin.
Ilana
This was a great book! Something to make both science and history geeks happy.
Elin1215 holmberg
Fascinating story of something I'm allergic too! Thank you Eric!
rivka
A fascinating look at the people who made penicillin a reality.
Abhar
Very brilliant ! A must read for biotech geeks.
Frank
Frank marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2015
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