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A Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  48 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book, 1997
Library Journal, Best Book of 1997

Beginning with the "occasional miracles" of a mysterious turn-of-the-century cancer vaccine called Coley's toxins, Stephen S. Hall traces the story of how doctors have learned to harness the immune system and its "commotions" to develop a wide array of cutting-edge therapies. Moving deftly between laborat
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Paperback, 500 pages
Published June 15th 1998 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1997)
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Great Influenza by John M. BarryStiff by Mary RoachMaking Rounds with Oscar by David DosaThe Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Best Medical Non-fiction
20th out of 41 books — 18 voters
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Hot Zone by Richard   PrestonThe Ghost Map by Steven JohnsonThe Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha MukherjeeThe Great Influenza by John M. Barry
History of Medicine
61st out of 156 books — 89 voters


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Rhonda Sue
Sep 13, 2015 Rhonda Sue rated it really liked it
This was a very lengthy tome, redundant I know, about the history of immunology, who the scientists of note were and where we are with immunotherapy and fighting cancer and disease as of 1997, which was the publication date of this book. Fast forward almost 20 years and I'm sure there have been advances and setbacks as this book recounts. I thoroughly enjoyed the history-it was laid out very well even for laymen. I took notes as I do with all my medical and history readings and appreciated ...more
Mike
Jan 10, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago, in fact over a decade ago, but revisit it time to time to once again enjoy and learn from some of the finest science journalism I've ever read. It was one of the books that made me firmly believe I wanted to be involved in biomedical research in some capacity and one, along with The Coming Plague, that represents amazingly in-depth medical writing that can connect with the lay reader yet offers ample insights also to the professional.

This book tells of a search, a qu
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Converse
Apr 25, 2010 Converse rated it liked it
Starting with the late nineteenth century experiments of the American physician William Coley, the book describes the attempts to make the immune system react to and eliminate tumors. More recent developments include the uses of interferon, t-cells, interleukin, the injection of bacteria (to gin up the immune response so that it will attack the cancer as well as the bacteria- this is what Coley seems to have done) and a cast of other molecules and leukocytes. As of the book's publication in ...more
Lauren
May 22, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it
Interesting look at the history of using immunotherapy (and learning more about the immune system) for the treatment of cancer. I like the insights on how science actually works through mistakes, missteps, politics, etc.
Rebecca
Oct 05, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Too much: this old white dude did this or that, I think I wanted more of the story of science told and not the story of these men who discovered it. Didn't finish it.
sk
May 18, 2010 sk rated it liked it
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For nearly three decades, Stephen S. Hall has written about the intersection of science and society in books, magazine articles, and essays. He is the author, most recently, of Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience (2010), which grew out of a 2007 cover article in The New York Times Magazine.

His previous books include Size Matters: How Height Affects the Health, Happiness, and Success of Boys—an
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