Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio

Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio

by Gareth Williams
     
 

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Polio became one of the iconic diseases of the 20th century because of its horrific impact on victims and society. Until effective vaccines were introduced, there was no protection against the infection, which could break into any home and paralyse or kill a previously healthy child.
During the early 1950s, polio terrified Americans almost as much as the threat

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Overview

Polio became one of the iconic diseases of the 20th century because of its horrific impact on victims and society. Until effective vaccines were introduced, there was no protection against the infection, which could break into any home and paralyse or kill a previously healthy child.
During the early 1950s, polio terrified Americans almost as much as the threat of nuclear annihilation – partly because the fear of polio was deliberately exploited by the March of Dimes, headed by polio survivor President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to raise funds to defeat the disease. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin became locked in a cut-throat race to develop rival polio vaccines. Both succeeded, but their rivalry degenerated into a clash of big egos which held up progress and put patients at risk.
Worldwide vaccination campaigns have pushed polio to the brink of extinction. Unfortunately, it still clings on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern Nigeria, where the greatest obstacle to defeating polio is anti-Western ideology. Because of conflicts and the migration of refugees, polio is now spreading to other regions – and raising the possibility that this is becoming a battle we can never win.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"As Williams's punchy book reveals, the history of polio is quite an extraordinary one." - The Guardian

"Williams is good on the terror [polio] inspired...and strongest of all is Williams's highly entertaining description of the poisonous rivalry between scientists... His tale of vendetta and bitterness reminds us that even medical heroes can be as jealous and petty as the rest of us." - The Times 

"A splendid book, riveting from beginning to end… a model of its kind." - Literary Review

"An absorbing new history of the disease… personal accounts are woven through the story with consummate skill." - Times Higher Education

"This book is a compelling story of how human ingenuity, ruthless competition, money and science have played a key role in driving polio to the brink of extinction." - New Internationalist

"Williams has written a story about good and evil, successfully making poliovirus a villain in a gripping, multiact play… His book should be read by anyone interested in science, medicine, history, and public health. And by anyone interested in an incredible story told by a great storyteller." - The Lancet

"An engaging narrative and critical commentary…a great strength of the book is that all of the competing ideas are covered, giving the reader a wonderfully rich picture of 20th-century medicine in all its forms…Paralysed With Fear can be recommended both as a wonderful biography of polio and a revealing story of the development of 20th-century medicine, warts and all." - BBC History

"Williams negotiates the hairpin bends of polio's history with aplomb…a detailed, science-rich treatment." - Nature

"There is plenty of drama in the polio story, and Williams's skills as a writer come to the fore here…he has mastered his material and is at his best in explaining why the science and therapeutics were good and bad, and why it has been possible to think about the global eradication of this awful disease in the first place." - Times Literary Supplement

"Thrilling tale of man's war against polio...Williams does an excellent job in describing ambitious, vain and wrongheaded scientists; said scientists' feuds…researchers who fell out of favour; horrible treatment trial fiascos; and FDR's fate, which served as quite the tool for bringing about what may be the biggest fundraising campaign of all time." - The Book Bag

"Authoritative and insightful, warm in tone and compulsively readable, Paralysed with Fear is a welcome addition to the Polio history canon." - British Polio Fellowship

"Gareth Williams' new book about poliomyelitis, and the attempts to follow the example of smallpox by eradicating a second dreaded infection from the world, is fascinating...a compelling read." - Professor Alasdair Geddes CBE

"A wonderfully enlightening read. It takes the reader on a long and exciting ride through the history of polio." - Dr Don Francis

"I would say this is a really great book for all the obvious reasons (that include diligent and clear research, and a clear narrative of the history of polio) but it is also great because it tells you about the reality of medical research." - Wendy Gagen, 'Reviews in History', the Institute of Historical Research

 
"A wonderful biography of polio and a revealing story of the development of 20th-century medicine, warts and all." - BBC History Magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781137299758
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication date:
07/17/2013
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
1,105,242
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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