The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

by Thomas Goetz
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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz

The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world’s most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.
 
In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB—often called consumption—was a death sentence. Then, in triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB. Koch soon embarked on a remedy—a remedy that would be his undoing.
 
When Koch announced his cure for consumption, Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town doctor in England and sometime writer, went to Berlin to cover the event. Touring the ward of reportedly cured patients, he was horrified. Koch’s “remedy” was either sloppy science or outright fraud.
 
But to a world desperate for relief, Koch’s remedy wasn’t so easily dismissed. As Europe’s consumptives descended upon Berlin, Koch urgently tried to prove his case. Conan Doyle, meanwhile, returned to England determined to abandon medicine in favor of writing. In particular, he turned to a character inspired by the very scientific methods that Koch had formulated: Sherlock Holmes.
 
Capturing the moment when mystery and magic began to yield to science, The Remedy chronicles the stunning story of how the germ theory of disease became a true fact, how two men of ambition were emboldened to reach for something more, and how scientific discoveries evolve into social truths.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592407514
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Thomas Goetz is the author of two books. A correspondent at the Atlantic and entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he holds a master of public health from the University of California, Berkeley and a master in literature from the University of Virginia. The former executive editor of WIRED, he speaks frequently on medicine and science.

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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
The Remedy takes you through medical and literary history, right around the time the foundation was laid for modern medicine. Handwashing was controversial. Hospitals had open jars of ointment in the operating room, and surgeons would scoop out what they needed without washing their hands in between patients. This book made me thankful for germ theory. For basic hygiene. For vaccines! I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I really got a feel for how relentless tuberculosis was, and how hopeless it seemed. Would the public be convinced of Koch's findings? Would other scientists be swayed? I found this book to be absolutely riveting, and that surprised me when I considered it's basically a non-fiction book about germs, medicine, and scientific research. But it reads in a narrative style, in layman's terms; so it was enjoyable throughout, and I didn't once feel bogged down. The Arthur Conan Doyle connection was a teensy bit looser than I had hoped it would be, but it was an interesting angle nonetheless. I was impressed by how cutting-edge Sherlock Holmes's forensic methods were for the time, and what a huge impact these novels had on the scientific community. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
In "The Remedy" you will find out the shocking tale of a tiny slice of medical history that has been tucked away in the vast volumes of bygone times. When I first found out about Thomas Goetz's book, I immediately became intrigued with the fact that the beloved Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the world's favorite detective stories!) somehow involved himself in the cure for such a tremendous disease as Tuberculosis. And how did he do it? In the 19th century, consumption (or TB) took 25% of all deaths in America and England. For someone to locate a medicine for it would be life-changing for hundreds of thousands.  While reading, I became simply amazed with all the information contained in this one book. Somehow the author fits in everything you need to know about medical science of the 1800s, the emerging germ theories of the time, the physicians and scientists that got us to where we are today, and 2 very important men at the center of the story... Dr. Robert Koch, a German physician who discovers the TB bacteria. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a doctor from the UK, with a hand for writing, and an eye for spotting details. (No wonder Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes... for you will see Holmes's methods at work in the real world, utilized by Conan Doyle himself.) "To grasp the significance of Koch's discovery, we must first get our heads around this: To live in the nineteenth century was to experience infectious disease as a constant, to have unexplained illnesses afflict and dispatch loved ones without warning. Simply put, more people died of more things back then than do now...." (Page 89) Goetz is a master on the subjects he brings out in the book. He has put together many facts about science and medicine, and draws the parallels of history well. So as not to build your hopes too high before reading "The Remedy"... Conan Doyle does not come up with the astounding elixir for an incurable disease himself. But I think he helped bring details to the public eye that others hadn't taken the time to notice. Cons: The one thing I disapprove of is the author's use of a couple words in the text. Usually I would deduct a star in my review for this type of foul language, but I still love the book so much because of the infinite information it offers. However, I do wish the text wasn't marred at all. In the end, "The Remedy" is an amazing story to be told. It's a fantastic "mix of literature and history and science" (Goetz's words). I think it will be a while before I can find another historic tale as gripping as this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More than a book about the history of medicine and the fascinating story of the discovery of the causative agent of tuberculosis, The Remedy also details one of the more interesting and untold aspects of science: competition and the role of the nemesis, as it evolved between Koch and Pasteur, and the hubris it can sometimes produce. This is a great read for those interested in the history of science and the importance of the late 19th century in moving us into the modern medical age. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago