Journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything) offers an insightful, fast-paced account of the science, politics, and social history of blood. By visiting places that include a donation center in India and a leech farm in Wales (which, after a 2007 terrorist attack in London, supplied hospitals with leeches used in reconstructive surgery), she explores the fragility of the international blood supply. She writes poignantly about blood-borne viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Zika, and about the difficulty of ensuring that donated blood is safe, as underscored by tainted blood scandals in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1970s and in Canada as recently as 2013. Taboos associated with blood are vividly reported in Nepal, where George interviews young women banned from their homes and forced to sleep in sheds while menstruating, and in India, where she tells the intriguing story of engineer and entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose development and successful marketing of a “low-cost mini sanitary napkin manufacturing machine” began with his wearing a goat-blood-filled fake uterus made from a football. Noting that “every three seconds, somewhere in the world, a person receives a stranger’s blood,” this wide-reaching, lively survey makes clear that blood has become a “commodity that is dearer than oil.” (Oct.)
A very good book... George brings to everything she writes a no-nonsense briskness on the page; a forensic zeal; a potent moral sensibility. She’s a nimble writer, one who walks in fear of euphemism or pretension. There are no peacock displays of pointless erudition in her work; no recondite allusions are dragged in.”
The New York Times
“A wonder... An absorbing, vital book by one of the best non-fiction writers working today.”
“I’ve been mainlining Rose George for years now, so you can imagine my joy in hearing that she’d taken on blood and its many surprising cohorts (leech growth technicians! Breast milk transfusions! Blood-swilling epileptics!). George charges down wholly unexpected avenues of medical history and global injustice, leaving the reader by turns giddy and appalled. And always, always in awe of the writing. Rarely does one encounter such beautifully crafted prose in the service of nonfiction. Bloody hell, this is a good book.”
Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
“Stellar... An informative, elegant, and provocative exploration of the life-giving substance... A wondrously well-written work.”
Booklist (starred review)
“An intensive, humanistic examination of blood in all its dazzling forms and functions... Both fascinating and informative... George packs her book with the kinds of provocative, witty, and rigorously reported facts and stories sure to make readers view the integral fluid coursing through our veins in a whole new way.”
Kirkus (starred review)
“An insightful, fast-paced account... This wide-reaching, lively survey makes clear that blood has become a ‘commodity that is dearer than oil.’”
“Each chapter of Nine Pints reflects George’s experience, personal investment, and broad attention to the historical, political, social, biological, and moral aspects of blood.... The book... overflows with telling examples – some fantastic, some uncanny, all informative about the sanguinary fluid.”
“Nine Pints is a compelling chronicle, displaying an engaging prose style as well as moments of righteous indignation.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Blood is life. Blood is death. Writer Rose George’s book ranges extensively and often disturbingly between these contradictory extremes.… Highly readable and informative.”
“A wide-ranging and energetic new book.”
The New Yorker
“A bounty of knowledge and insight… Reading George’s dramatic tales and learning about the awe-inspiring nature of this essential substance, readers will likely be left amazed.”
“With a strong vein of humor, total candor, and a willingness to dig in deep, author Rose George takes readers on a journey tailored to the curious… George drops fact-nuggets like bread crumbs on a path, making even the most squeamish want to follow… For inquisitive readers and fans of Mary Roach, Nine Pints is a cut above.
“A conversational and expansive narrative whose brisk pace flows along faster than, well, blood.”
New York Journal of Books
Engrossing secrets of the sanguine.
British journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate, 2013, etc.) astutely probes the historical uses, misconceptions, taboos, and personal and professional value of human blood, "a medicine, a lifesaver, and a commodity that is dearer than oil." In a text that is both fascinating and informative, the author explores blood-borne disorders, medical uses, benefits, detriments, and wonders. An intriguing tour of the largest European blood donation facility reveals the cooled, pressurized environment that keeps stored plasma dust and insect-free—though not unbiased, since England's National Health Service enacted its "male donor preference" in 2003 after the rejection of female blood donations due to their hormone-heavy chemistry. George also profiles the thriving volunteer fleet of "blood bikers" delivering blood (and other essential bodily fluids) to health care centers around the clock. She writes that the worldwide shortage of this precious resource is as real as medical science's inability to comprehend and successfully replicate it, although the research supporting synthetic blood sounds promising. The author also highlights the importance of exsanguination via hermaphroditic leeches and the pioneering legacy of hematological researcher Janet Vaughan. Particularly gripping are chapters featuring interviews with HIV-positive South African youth and sections thoughtfully detailing the evolution and "intent and cunning" resilience of the HIV virus, which virologists describe with awe and dread simultaneously. George vividly presents sections on the demonization of menstruation and the anomaly of "fake menstruating men" alongside notes on "blood rejuvenation" and a clever interview with India's "Menstrual Man," who risked his marriage and reputation to radically revolutionize the sanitary pad industry in his native land and beyond. The author packs her book with the kinds of provocative, witty, and rigorously reported facts and stories sure to make readers view the integral fluid coursing through our veins in a whole new way.
An intensive, humanistic examination of blood in all its dazzling forms and functions.