Customer Reviews for

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

Average Rating 4.5
( 71 )
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5 Star

(37)

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(24)

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(7)

2 Star

(1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Excellent for science nerds and history buffs alike.

I'm a biology major who is wanting to work in the field of forensics, and I'm a bit of a history buff, too. So, this book was right up my alley. It was informative without being dry. People unfamiliar with chemistry should have no problem understanding it, but some of...
I'm a biology major who is wanting to work in the field of forensics, and I'm a bit of a history buff, too. So, this book was right up my alley. It was informative without being dry. People unfamiliar with chemistry should have no problem understanding it, but some of the descriptions of the chemistry of the poisons might get tedious. I found the case studies and personal anecdotes very interesting. If you enjoyed Mary Roach's "Stiff", you will probably enjoy this one as well.

posted by thesoundofherwings on July 23, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

The story is based in New York City in the early 1900's. It was

The story is based in New York City in the early 1900's. It was the time of prohibition, and the beginning of what you could call a medical revolution. Mercury, cyanide, chloroform, wood alcohol, and more, stocked doctors' offices, homes, and pharmacies. With the beginn...
The story is based in New York City in the early 1900's. It was the time of prohibition, and the beginning of what you could call a medical revolution. Mercury, cyanide, chloroform, wood alcohol, and more, stocked doctors' offices, homes, and pharmacies. With the beginning of Prohibition, each cocktail drank added to a game of chance.
. The people of New York City knew something had to change, so pathologist Charles Norris was hired. Norris along with with chemist Alexander Gettler, founded the city's first toxicology laboratory. The main story though, starts before Gettler and Norris. It starts when an unlikely killer springs up and bares its nasty fangs.
. This story is very believable and exciting. For people who enjoy television shows like CSI or NCIS, this book gives you a perfect combination of chemistry and forensics.
. Norris, Gettler, and other characters in the story are all believable. I want to know why Charles Norris chose to become a pathologist, and why he wanted Gettler so badly on his team.
. The science content is very accurate. I wouldn't necessarily want to learn more about the poisons, but I would be interested in learning more about the pathology and medical side to the story.
. In my opinion, this book is for somebody who is interested in chemistry more than anything. It was an ok book, but probably not one I would choose to re-read.
.

posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2013

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent for science nerds and history buffs alike.

    I'm a biology major who is wanting to work in the field of forensics, and I'm a bit of a history buff, too. So, this book was right up my alley. It was informative without being dry. People unfamiliar with chemistry should have no problem understanding it, but some of the descriptions of the chemistry of the poisons might get tedious. I found the case studies and personal anecdotes very interesting. If you enjoyed Mary Roach's "Stiff", you will probably enjoy this one as well.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 16, 2011

    Fascinating story!

    Now I know just enough about poisons to be dangerous, I definitely want to learn more. Blum has put together a well-researched and interesting look at Jazz Age New York....from an unexpected angle.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2014

    Interesting read about and unusual topic

    People will ask why are you reading a poisons book, but this book is an interesting history of forensic science. I really didn't know what to expect, but it kept me reading like any good murder mystery book does. I think anyone who enjoys all the CSI type shows would like this book so they can understand how the science of identifying poisons started with detailed accounts of cases & methods.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent. Non fiction book that reads like fiction. I found it

    Excellent.
    Non fiction book that reads like fiction. I found it hard to put down once I started reading it. The beginnings of forensics and the chaos of New York in the 1920"s. Great book for fans of CSI and similar shows also good for mystery fans who like science in their mysteries, I think. I finished it and turned right around and read it again. Only four stars because i would have liked it to be longer. I didn't find the chemistry overwhelming as did one other reviewer and i am no chemist, believe me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great history book that reads like a novel!

    Loved it! I love reading non-fiction and learning new things. I learned a great deal from this book. At times, the science talk was a little too much but over all it was easy to understand and I couldn't put it down! I just wish it had pictures!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2014

    Would definitely recommend it

    Anyone that enjoys nonfiction should enjoy this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Excellent read!

    Since I'm not a chemist, I knocked off a star from five to four because some of the text is chemistry, which I do not understand, but, other than that, this is one heck of a good read. It explains the culture going on in the 1920's, from an informed, statistics point of view. Not dry (pun intended) as I would have expected from a science writer. Poor people were being murdered in alarming numbers, all to save the facade of the movement of Prohibition. More were being poisoned by ignorance of the day of the complex physics of natural gas. The American government was responsible for so many murders and accidental deaths! Many courageous scientists sacrificed their careers in the name of saving untold lives. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Engrossing read

    The Poisoner's Handbook, while non-fiction reads like fiction. It has a great narrative and takes us into an interesting time, the Jazz Age. We're at the point in our culture where Prohibition has come in and toxicology and forensics are starting to emerge in their own right. Deborah Blum does an excellent job in weaving together science and history. It also made me appreciate how far we've come and how things we take for granted, such as toxic ingredients not being added to food and drugs, wasn't always so. I recommend this work to anyone interested in this period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2012

    good

    good

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 24, 2011

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    Posted June 23, 2011

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    Posted April 17, 2010

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    Posted May 17, 2011

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