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Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money,…

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood (2018)

by Rose George

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In Nine Pints Rose George does for blood what she did for human waste in The Big Necessity. Nine Pints covers issues ranging from the birth of the British blood donor service to the history and current state of medicinal leech usage to the politics of menstruation.

She weaves a story around each topic, offering a very readable combination of fact, anecdote, and analysis.

Despite that, I must admit my interest did flag in one or two places. I think when I read The Big Necessity it introduced me to a number of topics which I had never considered before, and which I think weren’t widely discussed. With Nine Pints, much of the material was familiar to me and has featured in mainstream media.

Indian social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, aka Pad Man, has received extensive publicity for his efforts to make good sanitary protection available to women (there has even been a movie made about him) and the terrible treatment of haemophiliacs given contaminated blood has been covered in the light of the public inquiry in the UK.

Other things were new though, such as the role of scientist Janet Vaughan, whose work helped make blood transfusion standard practice and was instrumental in the organisation of blood banks during World War 2, and the long and complex life cycle of the leech! More literal chapter headings might have been useful, so that readers could focus on the topics that interest them.

Overall, it’s an interesting read and offers a fresh perspective on something that is so familiar we often don’t give it much thought.

I received a copy of Nine Pints from the publisher via Netgalley.
Read more of my reviews on my blog at https://katevane.com ( )
  KateVane | Oct 25, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rose George’s Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood is exactly the type of book I tend to love. It has everything – medicine, history, public health, science, culture, and… leeches! I learned a lot from this book and found it to be an enjoyable read. Now I want to read Rose George’s The Big Necessity. ( )
  LTietz | Oct 8, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Chapter 1 was a bit rambling and seemed more like an Introduction, but the following chapters were tighter focused and absolutely fascinating. Get a glass of wine, sit in your comfiest chair, and enjoy this fact-packed, easily-readable, leisurely tome. There are memorable images and colorful characters, abundant trivia, and sparkly-eyed humor if you take the time to savor what you are reading. The author writes in a way that made it hard for me to put the book down. Around any corner there could be, at turns, a poignant moment offset by a blunt, even brutal, statement. I learned, I was entertained, I delighted, and was repulsed. I was recommending this to my friends and acquaintances before I reached the end of Ch. 2. This is the best kind of reading experience and, admittedly, I enjoy these types of non-fiction works over fiction any day. Will be checking out other topics from this author, and obtaining the official published version.

[My honest review comes as a result of winning a free ARC from LibraryThing Early Reviewers]. ( )
  seongeona | Oct 3, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

(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 this is, essentially, nine chapters that are the beginnings of nine separate books. To name a few, one chapter is on leeches, another on AIDS/HIV, another on hemophilia. This isn’t everyday information, and there’s much that’s fascinating. Leeches produce an anesthetic superior to anything scientists have been able to create. HIV sufferers now have to take only one pill to manage the illness, not eight, precisely timed pills a day. Knocking a knuckle causes “rush bleeding” in hemophiliacs followed by agonizing, debilitating pain. This is a dense, fact-heavy book that covers a lot of ground.

George obviously was enthusiastic about writing Nine Pints and researched each part extensively, but that can work against a science writer who isn’t careful. She included too much information and veered off on tangents, sometimes abandoning the topic of blood entirely.

In tone, Nine Pints swings from interesting to boring. Interesting sections are sharply focused and flow with a natural effortlessness. Boring sections are overlong, with the human element outweighed by the technical, factual, or historical.

Mary Roach, the cream of the crop among pop science writers, endorsed Nine Pints with excessive praise right on the cover. An endorsement from Roach is unsurprising; the topic seems just like one she'd write about. It may be unfair to compare George to Roach, but it’s hard not to when George has written about this, and her previous books have been about dirt and human feces. Maybe she wants to emulate Roach or maybe she doesn’t, but George can’t compare. She lacks Roach’s wittiness and gift for making nonfiction science page-turning entertainment. George took the more academic route. In and of itself that’s fine, but with Nine Pints, she wasted an opportunity to do something exciting with a subject many don’t want to read about. Nine Pints is educational for sure, but its drawbacks mean some in-depth articles on this subject would be a better choice. ( )
  Caroline77 | Oct 2, 2018 |
cultural-exploration, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, medical, war-is-hell

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 well past the time of blades or scarification such as brought about the demise of former President Washington.
3. The incredible contributions of Dame Janet Maria Vaughan of the women's college at Oxford in the mid twentieth century.
4. The greatest cause of HIV/AIDS around the world is donating blood in Africa and Southeast Asia.
5. The treatment perils for hemophilia. I value the people mentioned, but am very unhappy that Arthur Ashe went unmentioned even though he came from the country whose pharmaceutical companies denied culpability in the deaths of so many unique people.
6. The practices of derision and blame placed upon women in many countries which also have almost no clean water or sanitary facilities simply because the women are having menstrual bleeding.
7. Beginning with the man who endured verbal abuse from nearly everyone while researching the manufacture and distribution of affordable sanitary napkins and tampons in India and developing nations where women could not afford them and were forced to use some methods from antiquity.
8. Trauma Medicine in civilian hospitals and in war areas and the changes in the use of blood and blood products.
9. The history of vampirism and the search for synthetic products as well as blood as a fountain of youth.
There is an extensive bibliography following these chapters.
I found it to be well written, educational, and enjoyable.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Metropolitan Books courtesy of NetGalley. Thank you! ( )
  jetangen4571 | Sep 7, 2018 |
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