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Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and…

Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce (1998)

by Douglas Starr

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688176496, Paperback)

Don't faint! Blood may be a highly charged substance, symbolic of our spirit and essential for life, but we can gain much from reflecting on its power over us. Science journalist Douglas Starr has examined the history of blood's medical uses, and his report is at once intellectually engaging and emotionally compelling. Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce covers the late 17th century to the present, detailing experiments with animal blood (one violent madman was briefly calmed by infused calf's blood), the long ban on transfusions, direct artery-to-vein suture between donor and recipient, and today's global blood-banking industry. It's a great story that shows the long climb from great risk and heroism to relative safety.

Our greatest stumble during this climb--the AIDS crisis of the 1980s--is the meat of the book. How could it have happened? Why were so many people given contaminated blood products after clear warnings about the risks of infection? Starr is unafraid to name names and lay bare the political and financial decisions that condemned so many thousands of hemophiliacs and surgical patients to early deaths. Those who don't learn from the past are bound to repeat it; Starr aims to help us keep the blood off of our hands. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

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Essence and emblem of life - feared, revered, mythologized, and used in magic and medicine from earliest times - human blood is now the center of a huge, secretive, and often dangerous worldwide commerce. It is a commerce whose impact upon humanity rivals that of any other business - millions of lives have been saved by blood and its various derivatives, and tens of thousands of lives have been lost. Douglas Starr tells how this came to be, in a sweeping history that ranges through the centuries.… (more)

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