Splendid Solution

Splendid Solution

Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio

Book - 2004
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The riveting story of one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of the twentieth century, from the coauthor of the #1 New York Timesbestseller Apollo 13. With rivalries, reversals, and a race against time, the struggle to eradicate polio is one of the great tales of modern history. It begins with the birth of Jonas Salk, shortly before one of the worst polio epidemics in United States history. At the time, the disease was a terrifying enigma: striking from out of nowhere, it afflicted tens of thousands of children in this country each year and left them-literally overnight-paralyzed, and sometimes at death's door. Salk was in medical school just as a president crippled by the disease, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was taking office-and providing the impetus to the drive for studies on polio. By the early 1950s, Salk had already helped create an influenza vaccine, and was hot on the trail of the polio virus. He was nearly thwarted, though, by the politics of medicine and by a rival researcher eager to discredit his proposed solution. Meanwhile, in 1952, polio was spreading in record numbers, with 57,000 cases in the United States that summer alone. In early 1954, Salk was weighing the possibility of trials of a not-yet-perfected vaccine against-as the summer approached-the prospect of thousands more children being struck down by the disease. The results of the history-making trials were announced at a press conference on April 12, 1955: "The vaccine works." The room-and an entire nation-erupted in cheers for this singular medical achievement. Salk became a cultural hero and icon for a whole generation. Now, at the fiftieth anniversary of the first national vaccination program-and as humanity is tantalizingly close to eradicating polio worldwide-comes this unforgettable chronicle. Salk's work was an unparalleled achievement-and it makes for a magnificent read.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Group, c2004
ISBN: 9780399152160
Branch Call Number: 610.92 Salk 3564
Characteristics: 373 p. :,ill


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Aug 15, 2016

I remember lining up in school to get my polio shot, not among the test group, but later in the 1950s. Salk was, even then, a big hero. One boy in my class moved from an area that didn't get the shots, and got a mild case. So did my brother-in-law, who is now, in his late 70s, suffering from post-polio. A former prof told stories of being in an iron lung in the 1940s. All this personal background added to the interest for me in this book. It's a combination of Salk's bio and the science of polio and its conquest, at least in the US. Well and interestingly written. A bit long; could have done with some judicious editing. That's what lost it some stars for me. Still, I'm very glad I read it. Kluger's done his research. Now the same approach Salk used are being applied to other scourges.

Jul 14, 2012

I found this to be an engaging, informative drama. It explains the medical basics of the Salk and Sabin vaccines and their selection or rejection, the scientific community's organization, decision-making, and funding, personalities and their relationships, and the pressures of process of vaccine development.

The audio also brings the listener into the public's side of the epidemic--the polio patients, the parents, the fear, the volunteers.

The reader, Michael Prichard, is one of my favorites.

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