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

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  478 Ratings  ·  136 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 diagnosis,
...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,286)
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Ms. Yingling
Aug 19, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Christiane
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
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.
Tracy
Sep 30, 2012 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, 2012
Interesting book. I didn't really realize the impact of tuberculosis throughout history. Very readable account.
Alyson
Jun 13, 2014 Alyson rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jennifer
Oct 12, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Shelley Daugherty
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
Kathy
Sep 19, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Beth Simonich
Scary!!!!!
Mary
Feb 25, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa
Mar 10, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-real-deal
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.
Kaethe
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
...more
Sherri
Jan 16, 2016 Sherri rated it really liked it
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
J.S.
Sep 04, 2015 J.S. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
Sunday
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
Adrienne
May 26, 2016 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara
Jun 02, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol
Nov 03, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
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
...more
Anne
Jan 16, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ms. Yockey
Jun 28, 2012 Ms. Yockey marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction
HMH
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
...more
Emily Parsons
Apr 14, 2016 Emily Parsons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing, all encompassing story of the life of TB. I really enjoyed all of the pictures, etchings, drawings, and paintings that were included in this book. I also really liked the fact that this book included not just the story of TB but also the everyday struggle many faced. The personal stories were probably my favorite part of this book. I also like this book because each chapter is like a mini book. You don't have to read the whole book to gain insight into this disease.
Tara
This is the story about how tuberculosis affected the lives of thousands of people over the years. It reads similar to a medical mystery, providing key facts and information about how TB affects the body, as well as the search to find a cure. This is very text heavy, but print is fairly big. Would make for a great supplemental read, or to read only parts of the story at a time.
Kim
Oct 16, 2013 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tammy Mannarino
Aug 05, 2014 Tammy Mannarino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent photo-narrative by Jim Murphy. It encompasses the progress of the disease in human history, the medical treatment over time, the rise and fall of the sanitorium, and the social treatment of patients of different races and classes. While Murphy's books may be shelved with those for young readers, his topics have weight and depth that appeal to mature readers as well.
Alicia
Feb 16, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Betsy
Dec 22, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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