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Miracle Cure: The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The epic history of how antibiotics were born, saving millions of lives and creating a vast new industry known as Big Pharma.

As late as the 1930s, virtually no drug intended for sickness did any good; doctors could set bones, deliver babies, and offer palliative care. That all changed in less than a generation with the discovery and development of a new category of medicin
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Viking
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Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
An excellent book, recommended. The history of scientific medicine, with particular attention to antibiotics, beginning largely in the 19th century, but with a nod to earlier eras. The men and women who developed scientific medicine are described warts and all, a history of sometimes animosity, pride, and errors. Also the all too commercial side of medicine which has led to costs and resistant infections.

Of note is the clear exposition of the scientific method. The great difficulty of uncoverin
Cupboard Horsington
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A well researched and factual recount of one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in history. Well researched and fairly easy to understand, Rosen analyses every aspect in painstaking detail.

Not particularly exciting but I would recommend it to those who work in medicine. I found that the information was unnecessarily dense and in hindsight, I probably should have just watched a documentary on it instead.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I had to quite the book a little more than half way through.
Extremely verbose and badly edited, such that I would go through a chapter and there was very little to take back with me.
Intg stuff about how penicillin started the industry and how the political and scientific climates were in Europe and US; intg stuff about how the US succeeded where european nations ought to have.

The synopsis is a little misleading as the book has more to do with antibiotics more than other medicine, and it largely
Margaret Sankey
This is solid popular science, recounting the horrific world of "heroic" and largely ineffective medicine before the late 19th century, and the development of germ theory, carbolic acid as a disinfectant (Listerine!), the great national labs like the Pasteur Institute, the dye industry and sulfa drugs, penicillin, the wrenching decisions about who got this new "miracle cure" during WWII's limited supply, the rapidly changing role of doctors as miracle workers with magic bullets in the 1950s, the ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I learned a lot from this book. I had never considered the advent of the medicine age spurring the advent of real scientific research with double blind studies and control groups and everything, but the two went hand in hand. The author was largely a reporter and went through the chronology of trying to find cures for infectious diseases. The end was satisfying, though, with good analysis of pharmaceutical companies and research and the future of anti-biotics.
It made me wish I had paid attentio
Mark Stidham
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rosen is an excellent writer, and his efforts here are top rate. He accomplishes something very tricky in science writing. That is, he conveys some difficult science deftly and accurately without delving into the technical too far. He is equally adept at including mini-biographies, again with enough detail and some human interest side notes but not so much that the story lags. It all fits together nicely; I wonder if he wrote the last chapter first before constructing an outline to describe how ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Беше ми страшно интересна не само историята около създаването на първите класове антибиотици, а всички - икономически, политически и други обстоятелства - които се събират в един [erfect moment in time, за да направят възможни откритията. Някак книгата представя един bird eye view на целия процес, който беше наистина впечатляващ. Съдебните битки, събраните наблюдения и съображенията, довели до началото на регулацията на лекарствата също бяха представени фактологично и интересно. Безкрайно впечат ...more
A nice history of the creation of antibiotics. You'll learn about sulfa drugs and the myriad of peddlers that sold pharmaceuticals in the US, the importance of the development of academic and private research institutions for drug development, why the dye industry kick started modern chemical pharmacology (hint: that's where all the chemists worked), that penicillin was probably not discovered accidentally, that marketing drugs is actually an important part of doctors' drug knowledge, and that a ...more
Fiza Pathan
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent & very enlightening. Couldn't put it down. Loved the way the whole history of Antibiotics is presented. I was new to this subject & I have gained a lot by reading this awesome book. If you are looking for an erudite & informative read about the history of antibiotics, an introduction to pharmaceutical companies & the many people that shaped major medical events in history, then this is the book for you. Happy reading ! ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
More of a 3.5 star read. I learned a lot about the history and politics behind the development of our modern day drug companies. And I discovered an amazing new hero, Frances Kelsey, who single handedly prevented the sale of Thalidomide in America! However, there were definitely a lot of long, dry sections. Not sure how interesting this would be to someone who isn’t related to the healthcare field.
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book on a very important, interesting topic by Rosen. Well written and very readable. I love how Rosen can take complicated scientific information and make it accessible to the general public in a concise way. He tells a compelling story about how an unlikely cast of characters changed the face human history by discovering antibiotics.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting—I loved the history and stories of drug development. The book got a bit dull in spots and I zoned out while listening. If you enjoy learning the history of medication therapy, this is a good introduction. There is a lot of technical information, so it helps to have a chemistry or medical background.
Indeed a great history of how the explosion in medicine started wtih antibiotics. Weaves wartime history, industrial techniques, regulatory oversight, and the press of capitalistic motives in medicine into a very readable and informative book.
Aletha Pagett
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a novel and explores the first major weapon in the arsenal used against disease. I enjoyed both the scientific aspects of the creation of antibiotics, as well as the human characteristics and foibles of the scientists.
This was received through Goodreads.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent discussion of the history and key individuals behind the development of the life-saving antibiotics we take for granted today, even though they are becoming less useful thanks to overuse and misuse (as part of animal feeds). The Audible narration is superb.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
First half of the book is a little slow with too much detail around antibiotic discovery process. The second half really picks up in laying out industry development. So 2 stars for 1st half, 4 stars for second half yields 3 stars in aggregate.
John Patrick
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very revealing book about the development of antibiotics and how the pharmaceutical industry exploited it. The level of detail was incredible making it a bit tough to read, but it was so informative, it was worth it.
Diana Moldovan
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent written book, excellent explained scientific facts. No popularization rubbish. I love it :)
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
For those who are looking for a thorough but easily accessible history to antibiotics, this is it!
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was quite an interesting to find out the complex series of events of perspectives on such a milestone in human discovery.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Only qualm about five stars is that I wish he discussed the nature of resistance more at the end of the book. Fascinating read.
Joey Bean
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Historical account of the development of medicines and pharmaceutical companies. A little dry but useful nuggets.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent documentary of how the pharmaceutical industry became what it is today.
Bill Yancey
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Entertaining, readable history of antibiotics and the history of pharmaceutical companies.
Dorothy Caimano
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating look at the development of antibiotics and how much our lives - and medicine - have changed as a result. A look at history of the 20th century from another angle.
Tomas Gieni
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly excellent book.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook. While most people probably won't find this to be a page turner, it does do justice to the topic and is composed of great information. Approximately 3/4 of the book is devoted to the discovery and development of penicillin and how its development was impacted by the war, science's lack of funding, social needs, and the race for recognition. The remaining 1/4 contains information and the history on the antibiotics that followed, their mechanisms for working, the diseases they treated, o ...more
Danielle Kimmel
rated it really liked it
May 12, 2020
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Jul 02, 2017
Steven A Lemmel
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Oct 11, 2017
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William Rosen was an historian and author who previously was an editor an publisher at Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and the Free Press for nearly twenty-five years. He lived in Princeton, New Jersey.

From recent obituary

William Rosen PRINCETON JUNCTION Author William Rosen, 61, whose works of narrative nonfiction include "Justinian's Flea" and "The Most Powerful Idea in the World: The Story of Stea

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“Perversely, the greatest triumph in medical history—the germ theory of disease—destroyed the ideal of heroic medicine, replacing it with a kind of therapeutic fatalism.* As physicians were taught the bacterial causes of diseases, they also learned that there was little if nothing to do once a patient acquired one.” 0 likes
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