Description: This book is both a biography of the noted microbiologist and environmentalist Rene Dubos and an analysis and examination of the scientific methods behind his theories.
Purpose: The author discusses Dubos's personal life and his work, his journey from soil biology to medical research to environmental activist. As the medical community strives to deal with issues like emerging diseases (such as AIDS and Ebola), and problems like multidrug resistant infections, the book is an important contribution. The dangers of antibiotics were discussed by Dubos and his associates early in the research. This book demonstrates the medical community's responsibilities to understand not only the curative powers of new therapies, but also their long-term impact on the disease process in general.
Audience: Carol L. Moberg, a faculty member at Rockefeller University and an associate of Rene Dubos, has written this book with the general reader in mind. However, the depth of the research and the complexity of the subject make it an appropriate work for historians as well as clinicians.
Features: Using the major events in the life of Rene Dubos, the author shows how Dubos's life and work intersected. The book details his research in antibiotics, on tuberculosis, on infection vs. disease and host-disease relationships. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects and became a key advocate for the environment. This work is able to combine biography of the individual with an analysis of the science of the day, as well as to examine Dubos's long-term contributions to science. The book is scrupulously researched, with an extensive notes section. Personal photographs allow the reader a glimpse at the individual. Appendixes provide a quick overview of the key events in Dubos's life, and a list of his own publications. Although some readers may find the details of the scientific work daunting, the author attempts to clarify the research process.
Assessment: I found this a fascinating and illuminating work on a scientist whose work has impacted the lives of all of us, and about whom not much as been written. This is a valuable asset to any collection on the history of medicine, as well as to collections that concern themselves with infectious diseases.