Monday, January 07, 2008

Polio - An American Story

This is probably one of the best non-fiction books I have read in a long time. Polio - An American Story by David Oshinsky is truly an American story. The pursuit of a cure for polio tranformed medical research techniques, charitable fund raising, celebrity involvement, and government funding.

It was amazing to read of the rivalry between Sabin and Salk - two scientists who had two very different vaccines. Both worked, but both had problems. In the end, one comes out the winner but at the cost of a brilliant medical career. This historical sketch makes you wonder about the development, research, and safety of all other vaccines. It is true that polio has been virtually eliminated in most developed countries, but the story isn't over. There is still a lot that is not known about polio.

The author does a good job of placing Polio in its proper historical context and covers just about every vantage point. From FDR to the March of Dimes. He discusses the possible link between polio research and AIDS. Finally, he discusses the long term health status of polio survivors.

This was a long book, but well worth the read.

Book Rating: 5 stars

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