Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure ” as Want to Read:
Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  508 Ratings  ·  138 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 diagnosi
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Invincible Microbe, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Invincible Microbe

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jim Erekson
May 08, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it liked it
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,
Ms. Yingling
Aug 19, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 17, 2015 Christiane rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2012 Tracy rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2012
Interesting book. I didn't really realize the impact of tuberculosis throughout history. Very readable account.
Edward Sullivan
An excellent "biography" of the dreaded disease told from the perspectives of both science and social history. Not as gripping a narrative as An American Plague but still quite fascinating.
Jun 13, 2014 Alyson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book caught my eye when I wrapped it (put the protective plastic cover on it which is found on many library books) for the junior high library. Perhaps it was the unusual cover or perhaps the subject. A book on tuberculosis? Hmm.

Everything I read was a surprise. I admit that I knew nothing about tuberculosis and am even more surprised when I realize that I don't see a vaccine for it on my kids shot records. I see there is a spot to test to see if you have tested positive for TB on the back
Janet Frost
Jan 20, 2013 Janet Frost rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 12, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
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
Sep 19, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing
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
Shelley Daugherty
May 11, 2016 Shelley Daugherty rated it it was amazing
I love these books that don't overwhelm me with facts but yet give an accurate history of events. This book was an enlightening look at the progression of the Tuberculosis infection and how it progressed through time. The additional pictures and trivial information really made this book engaging and I would highly recommend it if you just want to know about it or if you are doing a report on the subject. The book is geared toward junior high and lower high school readers but I am okay with that! ...more
Mar 10, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Here is the best book you never knew you wanted to read. Yes, I just read an entire book about nothing but tuberculosis and rated it five stars. Such is the magic of the invincible Jim Murphy. Absolutely the most interesting and engaging book on the subject you will ever read, ever.
Beth Simonich
Mar 21, 2014 Beth Simonich rated it liked it
Richie Partington
May 27, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
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’
Feb 25, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
Murphy and Blank successfully condensed the many-thousand-year history of a complex disease into a well-written book. Although "Invincible Microbe" is intended for a juvenile audience, its best use might be as an overview for adults. I think that awareness of tuberculosis has increased partially because of prescription-drug advertising that cautions against use of the product if you have TB. I would recommend this book for people who are curious, but who are not motivated to read the detailed hi ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
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
Jan 16, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
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
Ms. Yockey
Jun 28, 2012 Ms. Yockey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
July 2012
Ask Ellen

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
Sunday Cummins
Mar 01, 2013 Sunday Cummins rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 04, 2015 J.S. rated it it was ok
Shelves: vine, history-medical
Tuberculosis - also known as "consumption" - is a disease which has long bedeviled mankind. Treatments have varied, but the Sanatoriums of the 19th century were among the most popular and effective. But even as various drugs seemed to have an effect, the virus itself quickly mutated to render itself - once again - invincible.

I've been very impressed with similar children's history books (Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London, The War to End All Wars: World War I, and A Savage Thunder
May 26, 2016 Adrienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
This is an excellent resource for young adult readers to use as a reference on the story of tuberculosis. It is well-written, uses plain language, and defines medical terms most teens probably wouldn't know. The bibliography and end notes are excellent sources, as are the index and picture index. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a good understanding of the history and current status of one of the most deadly diseases that has followed mankind from Homo erectis to the present. Instead of ...more
Jun 02, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, ncbla2013
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
Dec 22, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 16, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Feb 16, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it
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
Nov 17, 2012 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile-non-fic
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
Mmmm. Mighty good plague history. I like that the authors covered the social impact of the disease, as well as the medical research, and the technological innovations. Very well done. I learned a ton about TB that I never knew before, which is the point. And a good addition giving pronunciations in the margins.

My only complaint is that the stupid captions for the many images were italic which is hard to read especially when the font is small. Seriously folks, kids in particular find italics real
Lacy Compton
Feb 05, 2013 Lacy Compton rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-a-z
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
Kristin Yourdon
Aug 19, 2013 Kristin Yourdon rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity
  • Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship
  • A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
  • Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
  • Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead
  • Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
  • The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
  • We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March
  • Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • The Beetle Book
  • The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins
  • Island: A Story of the Galápagos
  • Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
  • Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
  • Those Rebels, John and Tom
  • Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
  • The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth
  • Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration
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...

Share This Book