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Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,279 ratings  ·  343 reviews
An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds, and the promise of breakthrough science

Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don’t
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Metropolitan Books
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  2,279 ratings  ·  343 reviews

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Bill Gates
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Last year I highly recommended Bad Blood, about the rise and fall of the Silicon Valley blood-diagnostics company Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. Since then, I watched the HBO documentary The Inventor, which covers the same story.

I’m not alone in my interest. A lot of my friends and colleagues have read the book, watched the movie, or listened to a podcast called The Dropout. I think part of people’s fascination with the Theranos story has to do with the drama of it all. But personal

(Full disclosure: book abandoned on page 145 [out of 289 pages].)

Nine pints of blood--or more visually arresting: one gallon plus one pint. That’s roughly how much is in the human body. It’s facts like these that author Rose George shared in Nine Pints--but only in chapter one. There’s only so much one can say about blood itself.

To fill out a book, George dedicated nine chapters to different sub-topics relating to blood in general. The sub-topics, however, are so disparate that
Nine Pints dives deep into the science and cultural history of blood. George’s journalistic tenacity keeps her pushing through the statistics to find the human stories that animate the book. In the first chapter we track the journey of a pint of blood that she donates in her hometown of Leeds. I was particularly interested, if morbidly so, in the chapter on leeches and bloodletting. Other sections journey further afield, chiefly to South Africa and India, to explore AIDS and menstruation taboos. ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sci-med
Q. Explain why you believe that reading this book makes you a fine of example of enlightened modern manhood.
A. It has two longish chapters about largely about menstruation, a topic which is not, as the cool kids say nowadays, in my wheelhouse.

Q. What do you want, some kind of medal?
A. Yes, please, and a certificate with a red ribbon, attached with a grommet. And an ice-cream sundae, too, because there was also a chapter on leeches.

I enjoyed this book but believe that people without sufficient kn
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent research, engaging writing
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A fantastic book that gave me about 100 ideas for stories in the first chapter.

Each chapter is a self-contained essay relating to blood in its various forms, including a chapter on menstruation which I would give 5/5 stars and think should be required reading for all humans as well as the chapter on hemophiliacs and the American blood trade.

Still, some essays were weaker than others, some didn't feel as tight, and while they were always interesting George would start on an idea and drop it enti
I have been an RN since forever and have worked in an assortment of acute, rehab, and chronic care settings, so my views are not unbiased nor uninformed. Perhaps if I give one example from each chapter it might be useful to those who speak medicalese and those who don't.
1. The changing understanding of blood though millennia including the relatively recent divisions of typing, and the development of blood storage and accessibility.
2. The medical use of leeches from antiquity to the present wel
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, audiobook
The grumpus23 (23-word commentary)
Interesting, but was overwhelmed as 25% of the book was spent on menstruation and ancillary hygiene products. Would have loved more on diseases.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Honestly - I did not know what to expect when starting this book.
Book contains 9 chapters, each devoted to specific blood-related topic. I'm writing a small summary for each chapter that I don't think give too much away, but if you don't want to know the topics covered, feel free to skip next paragraphs.
(view spoiler)
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
When I told my friend I was reading a book about blood, she shook her head and asked why.

"Because my boyfriend gave it to me as a present."

"But why?"

"Because he knows that's the kind of stuff I'm interested in..?"

Sometimes I forget that not everyone jumps up at the idea of learning new things about stuff as important and vital as blood! I was super thrilled to dive into this book, and the first chapter really delivered - then my interest started to wane a little. See, where I had hoped this wo
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chapter 1 - My Pint
Chapter 2 - That Most Singular and Valuable Reptile
Chapter 3 - Janet and Percy
Chapter 4 - Blood Borne
Chapter 5 - The Yellow Stuff
Chapter 6 - Rotting Pickles
Chapter 7 - Nasty Cloths
Chapter 8 - Code Red
Chapter 9 - Blood Like Guinness: The Future

This book talks about the nine pints of human blood we have in each of us, adults at least. Though most of the content is focused around the medical uses of blood, it also takes the cultural perspective on how blood, in certain contexts,
Iona Sharma
Sep 10, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
Fascinating book with huge breadth despite the fact that blood initially seems a narrow focus. I was particularly struck by the chapters on contaminated blood and clotting factors given to haemophiliacs in the 1980s and on trauma surgery in London. The chapter on menstrual taboos in Nepal is a little eyeroll-inducing, though very interesting and meticulously researched as all the rest of the book is. In certain rural villages, young girls are excluded from the family home when menstruating, whic ...more
Andy Klein
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one of my favorite types of books. Pick an unusual narrow topic and then explore it from every angle. And this book was well done, well written, generally entertaining, and largely informative. What it wasn’t for me was scientific enough and exhaustive in its scope. And it focused too much on HIV which required shoehorning to fit it into this topic, but nothing on leukemia, which is far more relevant. I wanted more. A lot more. For example, there was nothing about mosquitoes, but there w ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author is British, so the book starts out describing blood banking in Britain, and about Janet Vaughan, the woman who basically started blood banking. There’s a chapter on leeches and bloodletting, both the history, and current uses today. Another chapter discusses HIV in South Africa, which seemed oddly irrelevant. Canadian for-profit blood banks, trauma surgery, vampires, and menstrual blood are all discussed. I found the stereotyping of Americans (“the Canadian border official has been ta ...more
Rob Adey
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't normally read a book on this topic due to medical phobiaishness, but Rose George is such a good writer I thought I'd risk it (still had to skip a couple of chapters, though). And it's great stuff: lots of info packed into superior prose, with wit and passion (within a few pages I'd signed up to donate blood for the first time).
Leah K
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
A fascinating look at the history and science of blood. A little disjointed at times. A fairly quick read at 287 pages.
Taylor Sands
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be absolutely fascinating and I find myself retelling the facts I learned to anyone who will listen. I especially love how the author is so passionate about dismantling stigma around periods.

The only struggle I found was some of the language used. There were some outdated terms in this book.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never read Rose George before (her Ninety Percent of Everything came out right as I had started another book also about, basically, shipping containers), but I'll now definitely go back and check out that one and her one about human waste, because Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood is terrific. George reminds me of Mary Roach, who I also like (though George is British, adding an additional layer of charm to my ears), in that she's smart, engaging, clea ...more
Rita Ciresi
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nine Pints is less an overview of blood (as promised by the opening chapter) and more a collection of essays on diverse topics relating to blood. Some are more interesting than others, but all are informative and tinged with a dry humor that makes Rose George the UK's answer to her more raucous American counterpart, Mary Roach. I admire the way both authors write about complex medical issues for a lay audience.
Chris Demer
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology, history, medicine
This is a fascinating and really well-written book about blood. Everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask!

Blood is mysterious (still) and is both a tissue and an organ required for life.

George traces the history of the development of the use of blood transfusions to save lives, from crude experiment with animal blood, through direct transfusions (patient to patient), to the use of blood banks and mobile units for use on or near the battlefields. She discusses the development o
George does a lot within the book. The chapters are essentially mini-books related to topics on blood but don't move with an overarching flow that I would have appreciated. In my reading, I would have preferred a shorter "history" of blood that touches on these topics without going as deep as she did for each chapter. They each ran just a little too long, like needing to get in a few more words.

Her inserted voice is tolerable but after a few times of referencing her home in Great Britain, I cou
Ryan Fohl
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had so much more than I expected. The marketing did not do the book justice. There is a broad range of information and writing that keeps you reading fast. There are nine chapters and only three were what I was expecting. All the chapters cover some history for context and reporting from the present. I was surprised by a chapter on leaches. A chapter on mensuration huts. A chapter on South Africa. A chapter on mensuration pads. Trauma medicine and vampires. I learned a lot of new things and ...more
Sidharth Mishra
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written book of arguably the most vital fluid for Homo Sapiens - the human blood. This book comprises of lucidly written 9 stories covering various aspects of blood - blood transfusion, component therapy - essentially taking various components of the human blood and using that for treatment, the general discovery that whole blood is always better, taboos associated with menstruation, setting up of blood banks, how based on religious beliefs people do not accept blood transfusions, ...more
Muhammad Noor
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If someone had told me that I would have enjoyed a book written about blood, I would have been surprised. But, yes I did enjoy this book. Though the subject is interesting enough to carry the book on its own, the style that Ms George took, adding in personal anecdotes and views to the story where it fits, made it a personal story as well.
Having been on both sides of the blood transfer couch/bed, the segment on blood banks was one which I found personal interest in. However, the quest for provid
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I did not expect to like this book so much, but I ended up binge-reading it in that most inhospitable of environments: an AIRPLANE. I was travel-weary and vaguely travel-annoyed and physically uncomfortable and yet I could not put this book down. Bravo. Here's a sentence that really encapsulates what this book is like, and about:

"Educated girls are like yeast in the dough of sustainable, successful development (even dough kneaded by a menstruating woman)."

Informative, aware of social injustice a
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This was another good book from Bill Gates’s reviews.

Like John McPhee but maybe lacking his depth, and like Bill Bryson but a little less funny, George tackles one subject and turns it this way and that to wring our many stories.

I loved the chapters on blood donation, leeches, and others. I thought the AIDS chapter went on far too long and afield from the topic of the book. And how could she write about leeches and not mosquitos?

I would have liked more scientific depth but it was still a great
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medicine
Excellent. The history of blood as used in medicine. While the modern world has pretty much stopped paying for blood donations, plasma is still payed for. All of the problems associated with paying for blood are happening with paying for plasma. Big corporations are assuring that it stays that way. There is a lovely section on menstruation. She discusses how too much of the world still makes menstruating women and girls sleep outside.
Pongsak Sarapukdee
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nine pints, that’s how much blood you have. George gives us nine chapters about blood in her own life story. For example, she visits the NHS Blood and Transplant service to tell us about the blood donation, visits India to meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, or “Menstrual Man” who invented a cheap pad for Indian women. I have learned a lot from this book.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book Challenge Category: A Book You Meant to Read in 2019

An interesting book, covering a wide-range of topics. Well-written and engaging-- although, perhaps a bit too diverse of topics to hold the interest of a wide audience. Overall- fascinating!
Caroline’s review, linked below, honestly covered everything I thought about Nine Pints, which is why it took me two weeks to finish the thing.
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Tech pioneer, co-founder of Microsoft, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and author Bill Gates is an avid reader who...
157 likes · 62 comments
“The fact that O-type people are more susceptible to cholera was first noticed in 1977. During Peru’s 1991 epidemic, people with O blood were eight times more likely to be hospitalized.20 People from the Ganges delta, where cholera has always been endemic, have the lowest rate of O type anywhere.” 0 likes
“historical, political, social, biological, and moral aspects of blood” 0 likes
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