Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
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Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  108 reviews
This is the story of a killer that has been striking people down for thousands of years: tuberculosis. After centuries of ineffective treatments, the microorganism that causes TB was identified, and the cure was thought to be within reach—but drug-resistant varieties continue to plague and panic the human race. The “biography” of this deadly germ, an account of the diagnos...more
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2012)
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Jim Erekson
The best thing about this story is that while it is topical, Murphy found the narrative thread and followed it. The question of resistance to antibiotics is the big finish this story is all leading toward. He builds up TB as a 'character' almost, that gains depth without being anthropomorphized or trivialized in the process.

It's always shocking to me how recently we are talking about people not believing in 'germ theory' as the great explanation of major diseases. Even fewer than 100 years ago,...more
In Invincible Microbe, Jim Murphy and his wife Alison Blank chronicle the history of one of the greatest killers in world history: tuberculosis. They trace TB back to microorganisms in African soil and water 3 million years ago and follow it to the frightening drug-resistant strains of the disease that threaten us today. Along the way, they explain how TB attacks the body, how it is spread, and the bizarre attempts throughout history of treating the disease. Murphy and Blank make excellent use p...more
Ms. Yingling
As a teacher, one of the things I have to do to keep my certification current is to make sure I don't have tuberculosis. Surly Teen Boy has to have a TB test before he headed off to the Philippines. In the back of my mind, I always thought this was a tiny bit silly, until I remember that in 1972, the art teacher in my elementary school was diagnosed with TB and the ENTIRE school population had to stand in line to get a tine test, around which the nurse drew a bunny rabbit that was not supposed t...more
Eileen Granfors
The edition I read is an ARC. There are some severe issues with format, which I am sure will be taken care of by the time the book is released in March.

Jim Murphy and Alison Blank have put together a fascinating, readable, useful book in their "Invincible Mircrobe, Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure."

This book will be helpful to students grades 5 through 12 who are doing research about disease, public health, and even race relations. It is also an important reminder for other re...more
I love to read all things medical, even science fiction medical. So when I saw this children's book about tuberculosis, I thought why not? Also the girl on the cover with the fancy headband beckoned to me. I can remember the special stamps for it and my mother and my husband both found out that they had tuberculosis long after the fact. So I was curious about what they went through.

'Invincible Microbes' is richly illustrated with photos, drawings and posters of the past. So it is a joy to look a...more
The human race is at war, and has been for thousands of years. More people have died in this war than all the ones ever fought with guns. The enemy? A microbe too small to see. Do you think we won the war against Tuberculosis, the greatest of all biological weapons? Think again…
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: INVINCIBLE MICROBE: TUBERCULOSIS AND THE NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR A CURE by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank, Clarion, July 2012, 160p., ISBN: 978-0-618-53574-3

“So open up the window and let me breathe
I said, open up the window and let me breathe
I’m looking down to the street below
Lord, I cried for you, I cried, oh, Lord.”
--Van Morrison, “T.B. Sheets”

“To Beverly, fires and tight rooms were like a death sentence. If the open air were not blowing past her face she felt as if she couldn’...more
The Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure is Jim Murphy's new book, co-authored with Alison Blank. Murphy's book The Great Fire is a Newbery Honor book and listed as a text exemplar for informational texts at the middle school level in the Common Core Standards Appendix B. Invincible Microbe would be an appropriately challenging read for 7-8th grade students. Murphy tells the history of TB in a blended text - with narrative and non-narrative language. Did you kn...more
Award-winning author Murphy teams up with his wife to trace the history of tuberculosis and the treatment of the disease. For thousands of years, tuberculosis killed countless numbers of people, who sought any treatment they could get--from having their king touch them to heal them to blood letting. In the 1800s, with people not knowing how the disease was spread and guessing at treatments, the sanitarium movement was started, with towns actually recruiting people to come and stay in their sanit...more
With fascinating information about the microbe that seems unwilling to be vanquished by humans, this title provides an engaging account of the history of tuberculosis, including the various ways TB has been treated over the centuries. Seemingly vanquished a few years ago, TB is still present, particularly in certain parts of the world. As always with this author--his wife joins him in its writing--Murphy makes the search for a cure quite exciting as well as taking care to point out the romantici...more
Janet Frost
I loved this book. Jim Murphy is such an expert at researching and presenting fascinating topics at the middle grade level. He captured me again with this one. I must admit the nurse in me was very intrigued by the topic of Tuberculosis. You cannot be in the medical field and not have had some kind of exposure to TB and its history. In spite of my medical background, there was so much information I never knew in this book. In the Author's Note, he explains that they attempted to tell the story...more
Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure tells the story of the disease and the people it affects. starting from what scientists believe the origin of TB is, the book tells what how the disease is found and ancient treatment methods through the ages. These crazy methods include a coin, blood transfusions (vitalism from the ancient Greeks) and more. While doctors attempted to help their patients, they ended up usually hurting them more.

TB is a nasty disease that af...more
Erin O'Riordan
Did you know that all five Bronte sisters, along with their mother and brother, died of tuberculosis? The body-destroying disease is known to have afflicted Homo erectus, an ancestor of modern humans. Easily spread through coughing, sneezing and even breathing, the disease had no effective treatments until the mid-20th century. For about 40 years, it was all but defeated. Then the bacteria that cause the disease began to become drug-resistant. The AIDS epidemic and countries that refuse to follo...more
Ms. Yockey
Jun 28, 2012 Ms. Yockey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
July 2012
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Kirkus Reviews starred (May 1, 2012)
Murphy and Blank chronicle the story of the tuberculosis microorganism, the greatest serial killer of all time. Tuberculosis has been infecting people for millions of years and has killed over a trillion humans. This fascinating tale unfolds as a biography of a germ, an account of the treatment and search for cures, and a social history of the disease. As Murphy treated yellow fever in An American Plague (2003), this volume offers a lively...more
From the days of homo erectus, tuberculosis has been a fatal disease for humans whose attempts at cures were often painful and harmful, and have led to today's super-resistant microorganism strains. A straight-forward, clearly written history of a disease with the kinds of details that keep readers fascinated. Lots of black-and-white illustrations emphasize the world-wide nature of this plague, its place in history, and the various efforts to treat it. Along the way Murphy manages to weave in ex...more
Fascinating exploration of a disease that is as old as man. I still, however, am aggravated by Murphy's attempt to insert his political views into a nonfiction book for children. His agenda in Truce was blatant. In this one, it is much more subtle and confined to one chapter. In the chapter titled "Outsiders," Murphy cites a phrase from a CNN news report in 2005 about illegal immigrants putting a strain on our healthcare system to point out that there are still "outsiders" in America. He also me...more
Telling the tale of the race to cure Tuberculosis during the late 1800s and early 1900s, this nonfiction book tells of many scientists quests as well as what anyone with TB would be willing to undergo for a cure including collapsing a lung by being pumped with oil to fill the chest cavity or removing ribs.

There's a big shout-out to the Adirondack's and Saranac Lake for taking in TB patients where it was discovered that healthy habits and clean fresh air helped heal TB patients. Very easy to und...more
If you know me and I suddenly start wearing a mask everywhere or acting paranoid if anyone coughs within a mile radius...this book is to blame!

Well researched, well narrated, and with great photographs, this book made the history of the TB microbe utterly fascinating (it includes some very scary former medical treatments and "cures"). It ends on a semi-hopeful note, although there's the stark acknowledgement that we still don't have a complete cure and that strands of the disease are evolving al...more
I thought it was quite interesting ... but with one caveat. I am the daughter of a doctor in public health. I grew up hearing about and watching concerns of spreading diseases and the importance of taking medications properly as well as getting vaccinations. There were some great primary source photographs and ads sprinkled throughout the pages. Plus I love reading historical fiction where consumption or delicate constitutions often played a part in the storyline.
If I did not have that backgrou...more
Lacy Compton
This is a great addition to kids' nonfiction, and definitely recommended for classrooms and libraries, particularly for those looking to expand students' interest in a variety of scientific topics. I imagine kids reading the text and then exploring chemistry, medicine, and biology much further on their own, especially when they read about the many "proven" cures that existed for TB at one time and the way it continues fighting back, despite modern medical advances to help prevent the spread of i...more
A history of tuberculosis told in shocking details and facts. Murphy's writing is perfection when it comes to the world of children's nonfiction. It is easy to comprehend and incorporates stories from real people who struggled with the illness which gives the information a human touch as opposed to straight research information that comes across as dry and unappealing to readers of all ages. Information is supported by numerous photos of good quality. I learned so much about this disease includi...more
Shannon Hitchcock
Invincible Microbe is a fascinating look at a disease that affected almost every family in the United States, including my own. I read this book on my Kindle and was interested to see how all of the many old photographs would show up, and they were crisp and clear, no problem at all.

Jim Murphy has a reputation as a meticulous researcher and this book is no exception. I actually bought it to check my research because I was in the process of revising my historical novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pear...more
Wow. This was a fascinating book, well researched, thought provoking and actually kind of terrifying too. To think that TB was an uncontrollable worldwide killer until less than one hundred years ago, and that even today drug resistant forms need to be battled. Whew. The fight isn't over, but seriously, thank heaven for modern medicine!
It seems weird to say how much I enjoyed this account of a deadly disease, but I really did. It is well-written, engaging, and full of interesting black and white photos. Students could easily use it to write a report, but it is also a good choice for non-fiction readers interested in disease and how it impacts society (for example, in the early 20th century many private and public sanatoriums refused to treat the poor, Native-Americans, or African-Americans). Tuberculosis is a particularly inte...more
I was drawn to this book because my brother contracted active TB while in Nicaragua and myself and my family were all exposed to it. It was so interesting watching the way the Health Dept handled everything and how seriously they took this threat. After reading this book I can see why, and I am even more grateful to live in a day when TB is more understood and controlled, at least in the USA. I am also more concerned about the fact that TB, like so many illnesses, constantly changes and adapts t...more
Sep 26, 2012 Joan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: medical history interests
This was very well written. I cannot explain why it didn't quite deserve 5 stars. It didn't sweep me up and engage me the way his other nonfiction books have for teens. The author seemed a bit removed from it unlike his book Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting. This covers the subject very clearly, makes it quite clear that this is still an extremely serious threat and has some fascinating photos. One photo was the first X-Ray ever taken, of Rontgen's wife's hand and points out the big...more
This biography is about a killer that has caused the death of over a trillion people throughout history. This serial killer is the germ that causes tuberculosis. Invincible Microbe describes the symptoms and history of treatment of the disease, and I learned that TB can attack many parts of the body, not just the lungs. Murphy also explains how the discovery of antibiotics almost led to a cure, but drug-resistant varieties have appeared. A clearly written and fascinating true tale, with a fright...more
After reading BREATHING ROOM, I had to know more. TB has a long and interesting history. Besides thinking that everyone who coughs near me has TB, I learned quite a bit about this "invincible" disease. This is the first Jim Murphy nonfiction book that I have read cover to cover. I plan to read more. You can read the whole thing or find interesting facts to pick out and share with students.

Writing this a week after finishing it during our vacation up north. I can't say I've ever read a book like...more
Kristin Yourdon
This was a very interesting book that was brilliantly organized. Readers get a great overview of the origins and earliest cases of the disease, the various ways that doctors tried to find a cure, and the brilliant health officials who worked to make living conditions better for those who lived in the poorer areas of cities and to stop the spread of the tuberculosis epidemic. It also extended to the modern day concern over XDR-tuberculosis, a strain of the disease which is resistant to many of th...more
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an American author of more than 35 nonfiction and fiction books for children, young adults, and general audiences, including more than 30 about American history. He won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2010 for his contribution in writing for teens. Jim lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, in a hundred-year-old house with his wife Alison Blank, a children’s TV produce...more
More about Jim Murphy...
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 West to a Land of Plenty: The Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi The Great Fire My Face to the Wind: The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher, Broken Bow, Nebraska, 1881, (Dear America) Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

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