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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,114 ratings  ·  203 reviews
The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world’s most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.
In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB—often called consumption—was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doc
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 3rd 2014 by Avery
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,114 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
When I read the premise of this book, I was intrigued. What could Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have to do with Robert Koch's efforts to cure Tuberculosis? Not a lot, as it turns out. The effort of the author to hang the story on the current popularity of Sherlock Holmes turns this otherwise interesting and well-sourced book into a cheap bait-and-switch.

The Remedy starts off with a very promising first half. The history of Germ Theory was fascinating, and it was very edifying to read about the effect
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”

The history of medicine is a fascinating one and of very ancient origin. The quest to fully understand the human body and disease has been a long journey where the work of many brilliant minds devoted to science continue searching for answers in order to offer the
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
ARC edition as part of GRs First Reads Giveaway.

I had written an absolutely **STELLAR** review a few days back, and my *@#%$%&& laptop decided to crash during the final wrap-up paragraph. I wanted to cry.

Needless to say, all my brilliant thoughts, observations and analysis of this book have vanished, never to return. Instead, I will just say that I enjoyed author Thomas Goetz book and all the information relating to Dr. Koch and his medical research and supposed "remedy" for TB. For the
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the nineteenth century twenty-two out of every thousand people died each year, more than 2% of the population– today only 5 out of a thousand people die each year. In the nineteenth century the average lifespan was thirty-six years – today it’s about eighty. The biggest killer in the nineteenth century? Tuberculosis. Also known as consumption, this disease was rampant, believed to be hereditary, and in spite of numerous claims of ways to cure the disease, no cure or effective treatment was av ...more
The Remedy is well-paced: it reads like mystery or true crime, not like a history book. It is not only a history of attempts to isolate the cause of tuberculosis and develop a cure for it, but also a dual biography of Dr. Robert Koch, the microbiologist who proved the bacterial origin of TB, and of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and a medical man in his own right. Goetz’s book is more than the sum of its parts: it reveals the scientific inquisitiveness of an era, and portrays the ...more
Trigger warnings: nineteenth century medical treatments, really graphic descriptions of tuberculosis and what it does to you. Not for the squeamish.

Y'all probably know by now that I'm TRASH for medical history books. So obviously I bought this when I came across it, especially seeing as I'd never read anything about tuberculosis before.

And for the most part, this was pretty fascinating. Koch's story was intriguing, the treatments for tuberculosis in the nineteenth century were HORRIFYING ("lem
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A fascinating scientific history about the development of germ theory and the remarkable researcher who discovered the tuberculosis bacteria (and, perhaps more importantly, laid down many basic rules for good research that are still used today). His story is both remarkable and tragic, and so is the history of medicine is. This book is set at a time of great scientific progress, but also at a time when scientists were becoming more aware of just how much we don't understand, and Koch was a brill ...more
Maureen Wynn
Let’s just start with the bait-and-switch, and get that out of the way: Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle had NOTHING to do with Dr. Robert Koch’s research into the causes and potential cures for tuberculosis. They had one point of commonality, in November of 1890, when Doyle traveled from Southsea, England to Berlin to try to attend Koch’s demonstration of a “cure” for consumption. As it turned out, the two men never even met – Dr. Doyle was turned away from Dr. Koch’s house because the doctor was too bus ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Well-written and very readable. This amounts to very interesting biographies of two men: Robert Koch, one of the architects of germ theory. And Arthur Conan Doyle, an MD who wrote the pioneering works featuring Sherlock Holmes.

The material in the book was all very interesting. There were some great parallels between Koch and Conan Doyle, especially in their respect for rational logic and intense scrutiny of detail and adherence to rigorous process.

The part where this book doesn't work was that
Amy Sturgis
The Remedy is a thoroughly fascinating and satisfying portrait of a transformative moment in intellectual history. Goetz traces the hazardous paths of those who championed the germ theory of disease and follows their habits of thought to the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. This is not to be missed by those with an interest in the history of science, detection, and/or modernity.

To quote Goetz, "Conan Doyle took what medical scientists a generation older than he - Joseph Bell, Lord Lister, and Robert
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a satisfying read! This book is great - it has amazing historical sweep on the development of the germ theory (fascinating) and the various personalities involved (Pasteur-the original germaphobe and many others), mini-novelistic biographies on two titans (Koch in science and Conan Doyle in literature), their conflict over tuberculosis, and the impacts this incredible disease had on both men and the society they lived in. The Remedy is engaging, amazing storytelling, I learned a ton, and I ...more
Whitney Wright
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I adore books that find a thread of history and manage to pull many different seams together into a coherent narrative. Even better if it can captivate my attention and keep me reading when I'm in material I wouldn't normally be drawn to. This is why I love this book - it found a story that helped me understand and appreciate the role of science in our world. I can't wait for the movie!!!
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
When I was in school I always hated the way science class began each year with yet another rehashing of "the scientific method." Could anything be more dull than hearing once again of hypotheses and theorems, of peer review and survey of the literature? I have now come to believe that the scientific method was the most important thing I ever learned in school. In an age where one group of people who believes that everything said in the Bible is literally true faces off against another group who ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In "The Remedy" you will find out the shocking tale of a tiny slice of medical history that has been tucked away in the vast volumes of bygone times.

When I first found out about Thomas Goetz's book, I immediately became intrigued with the fact that the beloved Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the world's favorite detective stories!) somehow involved himself in the cure for such a tremendous disease as Tuberculosis. And how did he do it?

In the 19th century, consumption (or TB) took 25% of all deaths
Cristael Bengtson
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: already-read
'Remedy' tells a medical detective story that involves Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and a deeply flawed German genius named Dr. Robert Koch, and their involvement with the most deadly disease of the 19th century, tuberculosis. I started reading this book last night, and I finished it today. I could not put it down.
The story is a mystery story. What was causing tuberculosis, which was killing 25 per cent of the population of Europe, America, Russia, and other na
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

The Remedy takes you through medical and literary history, right around the time the foundation was laid for modern medicine. Handwashing was controversial. Hospitals had open jars of ointment in the operating room, and surgeons would scoop out what they needed without washing their hands in between patients. This book made me thankful for germ theory. For basic hygiene. For vaccines!

I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I re
Robert Miller
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
At first, the author's discussion of early pioneering scientific efforts involving such terms as microbes, Steptococcus, microbiologists, flagellations of bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, and the like, immediately gives cause for pause; is this a treatise with boring scientific jargon? However, this book is anything but boring. It is easy to follow and reads like a novel only it is informative too. Goetz traces the early developments of scientific breakthroughs regarding proof of diseases caused by ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Who would have thought a book about the search for a cure for Tuberculosis could be so exciting and so interesting. Sounded pretty dull to me at first, but reads like a mystery novel and held my interest.
Then you have the scientists vying for prominence with their discoveries. You have those who believe in the germ theory and those who can't believe in something they can't see. Study takes years and years because scientists protect their findings as secrets.

Enter A. Conan Doyle. He was a doct
Alexandra Warren
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Goetz uses the narratives of two important men to convey how science emerged from miasma of the 19th century. The stories are interesting and the science is illuminating without being technical or heavy.

Robert Koch's and Arthur Conan Doyle's stories both start as small town doctors, and both are transformed by science. Koch story tells how he basically invented the modern scientific method. Conan Doyle's character, Sherlock Holmes, popularized the the scientific method, and its benefits, to a t
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked it. The author takes us on a most interesting, historical and informative journey into the 19th century.

One horrid epidemic or another was a fact of life in the 1800’s killing millions. Consumption or Tuberculosis (TB) proved to be the deadliest disease in history. But this is the tale of ambition. It is one of discovery and a profound shift to scientific methods and inventions from the old practices of leeches and cod-liver oil. Dr. Robert Koch, a German country doctor would introduce
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I seriously loved this book!
At first I didn't know how I was going to take to it; it sounded interesting, but I was afraid of it being nothing but boring facts and a long history of science. It wasn't anything like that!
It read more like a story. It was more like a biography! The way that Conan Doyle was introduced, and the way that the chapters bounce back and forth between him and Koch, was perfect. I never felt lost. It was very easy to follow along.

I did pretty well in my high school scie
Karen A. Wyle
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm rounding up just a bit.

This nonfiction book is an exciting account of what could be called the birth of modern medical science. It is also something of a morality tale, wherein a brilliant scientist (Robert Koch) establishes crucial scientific standards, and then, under external and internal pressures, fails to adhere to them, to his eventual (partial) downfall.

I had known nothing about Robert Koch, and very little about Louis Pasteur. This book taught me a good deal about both. It left me
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Remedy was superb. Goetz brings to light the achievements of 19th century scientists that were instrumental in modernizing medicine which at the time was seen as imprecise and oftentimes dangerous. Robert Koch, a man known to science mostly for his methodology postulates, was also one of the fathers of bacteriology alongside his nemesis, Louis Pasteur. Koch's triumphs and downfalls in relation to TB are brought to light right alongside the magnificent story of Arthur Conan Doyle and his jour ...more
Gilda Felt
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Part history, part mystery, the book chronicles the work of Robert Koch, a small town doctor who, through his discovery of the germ that causes tuberculosis, would find himself hailed as a hero. But then he would turn his attentions to finding a cure. Hubris would be his downfall.

Arthur Conan Doyle didn't have a lot to do with Robert Koch, or his efforts to find a cure for tuberculosis. But that search did have a lot to do with Doyle becoming the writer that he became. A doctor, himself, Doyle w
Becky Baylous
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating! I normally would not choose a book from this genre but it was recommended to me by my sister. We were reading A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle together at the time. It was so interesting to read how Conan Doyle came to write the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I really enjoyed reading these two books side by side. I also enjoyed learning about the birth of scientific medicine. It was so interesting to read about the man, Robert Koch, who discovered and proved that m ...more
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look into the discovery of cures for a wide variety of contagious illnesses. The holy grail in all this is tuberculosis - the largest killer of the 1800 and early 1900's Much time is spent on Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur and the competition in the world of medical research of that time. Arthur Conan Doyle is drawn into the story as he was a medical doctor who was deeply interested in their progress and used the research techniques he learned to construct his Sherlock Holm ...more
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book wasn't what I thought it would be, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great book. It seems to hint in the description at some great connection between Koch and Doyle, and that doesn't really happen. But the background on early bacteriology and Sherlock Holmes makes this book totally worth it and a great read. I was a little worried my kindle would stop letting me highlight passages, I was highlighting so much. Definitely recommend for the information and fascinating subjects, just be sur ...more
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up - This books had a slow start for me. Once we made it out of WW1, I was much more interested. It's such a great story - rivalries and science, rags to riches with ruined reputations and greatness. What more can you ask for? As I read it, tuberculosis played a smaller part in the story than I thought and more about the discoveries in science, germ theory, and the Doyle and Koch.
The audiobook was well read and enjoyable.
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent history of two men and the events that surrounded them at the end of the 19th century. Not only does this deal with the creation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but it also is an amazing history of medical science during one of its most hectic and interesting times.

*** I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads ***
Shawn Magee
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I Loved this book. Thomas Goetz eloquently weaves these two historic tales and gives us a vivid snapshot of a pivotal point in modern human history. The book also demonstrates how relevant this story (which takes place nearly 150 years ago) is in today's society and how media and science can combine to wreak havoc or harmony in the public psyche.
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Thomas Goetz is the author of the new book, The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, & the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis. He is also co-founder of Iodine, a health technology company based in San Francisco. His previous book, The Decision Tree, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as a Best Health book of 2010, and widely hailed as offering a new vision for healthcare in the United States.

“Pasteur equally as mischief-makers. As late as 1883, Michel Peter, a Parisian physician held in high esteem by his colleagues, went so far as to denounce Pasteur’s work to his face, at an address at the National Academy of Medicine. “What do I care about your microbes? . . . I have said, and I repeat, that all this research on microbes are not worth the time spent on them or the fuss made about them, and that after all the work nothing would be changed in medicine, there would only be a few extra microbes. Medicine . . . is threatened by the invasion of incompetent, and rash persons given to dreaming.” But as the discoveries mounted, these holdouts were increasingly marginalized.” 0 likes
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