The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug

The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug

by Thomas Hager
4.4 12

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Overview

The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager

In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of sulfa, the first antibiotic and the drug that shaped modern medicine.

The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. Sulfa saved millions of lives—among them those of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.—but its real effects are even more far reaching. Sulfa changed the way new drugs were developed, approved, and sold; transformed the way doctors treated patients; and ushered in the era of modern medicine. The very concept that chemicals created in a lab could cure disease revolutionized medicine, taking it from the treatment of symptoms and discomfort to the eradication of the root cause of illness.

A strange and colorful story, The Demon Under the Microscope illuminates the vivid characters, corporate strategy, individual idealism, careful planning, lucky breaks, cynicism, heroism, greed, hard work, and the central (though mistaken) idea that brought sulfa to the world. This is a fascinating scientific tale with all the excitement and intrigue of a great suspense novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307352286
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 09/19/2006
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 36,743
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Veteran science and medical writer Thomas Hager is the author of three books, including Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling, and his work has appeared in publications ranging from Reader’s Digest to Medical Tribune. A former director of the University of Oregon Press, contributing editor to American Health, and correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association, he lives in Eugene, Oregon.


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Demon under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
civiwarlibrarian More than 1 year ago
Thomas Hager opens Demon Under The Microscope with compelling descriptions of December 7 1941's wounded and those who cared for them. The setting is Tripler General Hospital in Hawaii. Ambulances, trucks, and cars bring the torn, the lacerated, and the roasted to the hospital. When it is filled the lawns of the facility are covered with the injured. The hospital's three operating rooms are in service for nearly a full day. Surprisingly and quite unlike World War One, there is not a single death from infection. In the first three chapters, Hager weaves stories of battlefield medicine from before the discovery from the French Revolution to World War One. The science of bacteriology began immediately before and during the First World War in which soldiers living in earthworks and trenches could die and without even be wounded. It was a world without antibiotics. In Germany, Gerhard Domagk and his colleagues at Bayer Corporation worked constantly to identify which microscopic bacteria caused tuberculosis, malaria, and blood poisoning. Discovered in 1932, sulfa became the first of the modern antibiotics. Hager addresses the biology and chemistry of the discovery through the competitive personalities, the national environments, and the aggressive international marketplace. Patent wars, lawsuits, dying children of U.S. Presidents, a nearly dead Winston Churchill after the Teheran Conference move the story forward. Research chemists, laboratory mice, and fortunate and unfortunate accidents may be mundane, but not when the Nazi's are looking over shoulders and monitoring research labs. Nazi chieftan Reinhard Heydrich was wounded by Czech assassins and, due to a possible misuse of sulfa, dies. To find out if sulfa was the cause, Ravenbruck concentration camp's laboratory conducts infection and sulfa studies on women prisoners. For those who have seen Saving Private Ryan, recall the episode where the medic is wounded in the assault on the Nazi communication post. He wound was dusted with white powder, a sulfa drug. Demon Under the Microscope is a well paced, personality driven suspense story of scientific discovery. There are no photographs in the book; it would have been enhanced by portraits of the main characters. On the other hand, your mind supplies the visuals from Hager's descriptions.
sciencenerd88 More than 1 year ago
Rather than provide a synopsis, I'll simply say that it provides a wonderful backbone from which to construct an understanding on early 20th century Biology and Medicine, as well as the marriage and honeymoon on these two philosophies.
samayatara More than 1 year ago
This is not just a book about science, it is also about history; the history of war, politics, countries, culture, law, and medicine. Although chock full of names, events, and dates, Demon under the Microscope is surprisingly well organized and easy to follow. When I bought this book I thought it was about the discovery penicillin, I was wrong. I did not know anything about the important drug discoveries that took place before the invention of penicillin. I learned so much from this book that helped me to better understand current events and drug products: for example, where Bayer Aspirin came from, why the FDA is so careful about testing new drugs, how "Big Pharma" got started, why there are strict guidelines for advertising natural/homeopathic products, the importance of a double blind study, in some cases I learned that "some things never change." I highly recommend this book. It is a fascinating story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thomas Hager story detailing the history of sulfa was intriguing and quite interesting when you contrast modern medicine today and the variety of antibiotics available and used to treat diseases. The advent of sulfa played a significant role in saving lives during WWII, as well as, lives among the wartime civilians. Hager also describes the the development of and formation of the FDA and the importance government oversight has in the manufacture and testing of new drugs. Sulfa at the time was seen as a miracle drug, when you consider the deaths associated with what we refer too today as the common sore throat. It is unfathomable to imagine today, deaths associated with streptococcus, although they do occur or the thought of sinus infection protentially being life threatening as was the case with Roosevelts son.
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