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 The Nazis discovered it The Allies won the war with it It conquered diseases changed laws and single handedly launched the era of antibiotics This incredible discovery was sulfa the first antibioti

  • Title: The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug
  • Author: Thomas Hager
  • ISBN: 9781400082131
  • Page: 256
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Nazis discovered it The Allies won the war with it It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single handedly launched the era of antibiotics This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.Sulfa saved millions of lives among them those ofThe Nazis discovered it The Allies won the war with it It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single handedly launched the era of antibiotics This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.Sulfa saved millions of lives among them those of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr but its real effects are even 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 For thousands of years, humans had sought medicines with which they could defeat contagion, and they had slowly, painstakingly, won a few battles some vaccines to ward off disease, a handful of antitoxins A drug or two was available that could stop parasitic diseases once they hit, tropical maladies like malaria and sleeping sickness But the great killers of Europe, North America, and most of Asia pneumonia, plague, tuberculosis, diphtheria, cholera, meningitis were caused not by parasites but by bacteria, much smaller, far different microorganisms By 1931, nothing on earth could stop a bacterial infection once it started But all that was about to change from The Demon Under the Microscope

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

    1. It is interesting that I read this book concurrently with Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, wherein her daughter nearly succumbs to sepsis created by the flu. I remember reading through those chapters and thinking, “my god this still happens!” I knowfactuallythat people still die from sepsis from bacteria and viruses; my childhood hero, Jim Henson passed in that same manner with pneumonia. I even know, logically, that this CAN happen to people in their prime- recently a local polic [...]

    2. The story of sulfa drugs makes for good reading, but the author’s fascination with the scientist behind their discovery turns this book into an un-asked-for defense of the German people’s conduct during the Nazi era. The author’s story is uneven, so I’ll go from the bad to the good. Hager’s book could have been thirty or forty pages shorter. He takes too long describing the experiments leading to the isolation of a sulfa drug by Dr. Gerhard Domagk, who one day would win a Nobel prize f [...]

    3. ~4.5Even as late as the 1930s, an infection was a likely death sentence. Even a small wound on a finger or toe could be deadly, for if it became septic, doctors could do nothing except hope that the patient could fight off the infection. Antibiotics were only a wistful dream of a universal panacea. After all, how could one create a medicine that would unerringly target the bacterial foe while leaving all of the diverse cells of the body intact?Everything changed with the invention of sulfa. Sulf [...]

    4. One of the best examples of clear, compelling scientific writing I've ever come across. Though I've studied organic chemistry and medical science for years, I never knew the amazing impact of sulfa--ranging from transformation of the medical profession, to the great influence it had on the way WWII was fought, to the creation of the FDA. Anyone interested in good science or historical writing really should pick this one up. For those interested in medicine, pharmacology, and infectious disease, [...]

    5. Let me start by saying the title of this book is incredibly misleading. This is not one doctor's discovery of sulfa drugs, the first antibiotic, it is the story of the discovery of sulfa drugs and their effectiveness which took years and many people in labs throughout several countries. The focus for much of the book is on Gerhard Domagk, but there were dozens instrumental to its discovery, development, and marketing; not to mention those who paved the way for the research.The book covers the de [...]

    6. So, for most of my life I read almost exclusively sci-fi. For the past few years, I've been branching out a lot. I'm reading and enjoying more kinds of fiction but also--for the first time in my love--quite a lot of nonfiction. I've read enough historical nonfiction now to sort of understand that the basic task of an author in this genre is to assemble a compelling story from the historical facts. There are basically two approaches.First, they can take a well-known historical story (say, the Fal [...]

    7. I got sick while in the middle of this book, and it's a testament to the content that I kept reading despite the descriptions of people dying in various agonizing ways while my own health was questionable. It's not that graphic, but for anyone born after a certain time, after antibiotics became both commonplace and safe, it's sobering to realize how many people used to die due to secondary infections.Gerhard Domagk, a German soldier-turned-medical-assistant in the First World War, was frustrated [...]

    8. This is actually a goodread, even though it is basically a chronicle of an evolution of a drug, sulfa, its actually a whole lot more.It goes through the history of its development, yes Nazis had a hand in it, but it saved millions of people including a one point Winston Churchill. It really took off in America when it saved the President’s son, FDR Jr. Publicity spread about this wonder drug and to meet demands a company out of Tennessee, Massengill Co, made a liquid form in 1937. It was a con [...]

    9. A great read about the fascinating development of the world's first antibiotic, the sulfa drug Prontosil. If you ever wished to time travel and often picture yourself at Downton Abbey, let this cure you of such romanticism. Life before antibiotics was precarious! If President Calvin Coolidge's son could DIE of a blister on his toe that he got playing tennis, nobody was safe. Developed by the German company Bayer, Prontosil's story intersects and overlaps with Nazi Germany and WWII. Door-to-door [...]

    10. Interesting review of the history of man's knowledge (and lack thereof) of bacterial infections leading up to the discovery of the sulfa drugs in Germany in the '30s and their enormous importance in WWII. I was not aware of the essentially complete lack of regulation of drug sales in the U.S. prior to the enactment of some regulation by the FDA. You could sell anything you liked and make any claim you liked about why it was good for you!! Hard to believe in this century but true.

    11. Tells the story of the life-altering research and development of sulfa drugs. The book is well paced for the most part, and the backdrop of early Nazi Germany adds additional interest. The book begins with the story of Gerhard Domagk, a German who survived injuries sustained in World War I to become the first doctor and researcher to achieve some success in developing an antibiotic. Coverage of the initial research dragged a little (possibly because none of the German or French researchers would [...]

    12. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that antibiotics changed the human condition. I had a vague idea about a penicillin eureka moment with moldy bread, but had never heard any of the story of the actual first commercially available antibiotics: sulfa drugs. In inter-war Germany, Bayer gave nearly unlimited budget and time to a team that painstakingly tested hundreds of synthesized chemicals--each patiently constructed a molecule different than the last--against a virulent form of strep dev [...]

    13. A fantastic book. Hager provides a fascinating history of how sulfa drugs were invented, taking interesting detours along the way. One particular detour sheds light on how the FDA came to be resultant a poisonous sulfa drug elixer made by Massingil. It turns out that the owner of the company was a real douche as well! The book reads like a suspense novel, jumping from Germany to France to England and back as the sulfa drug is discovered. While the Germans bring the first sulfa drug over the fini [...]

    14. I read this after reading The Alchemy of Air, also by Thomas Hager. Though both TAoA and this book are thoroughly researched and shed light on very important, and often undervalued, scientific issues, TDUtM distinctly feels stitched together, so much so as to seem forced at times. The book's description is deliberately compelling, and in many ways, the theme of the story is very much deservedly so. However, Hager seems to lose steam at certain parts of the book, filling pages with anecdotes that [...]

    15. I love drug discovery stories and this one goes beyond the initial discovery to tell you about what was going on in the world of medicine and how the discovery changed things today. Excellent.

    16. An entertaining and informative trip through the discovery and subsequent promotion of sulfa. The only criticism is the almost total absence of information about subsequent antibiotics.

    17. This is the story of how modern antibiotics were discovered, but it's so much more than that. It vividly shows how fragile life was before the invention of modern medicine, and how governments (and warfare) affect what scientists focus their efforts on. This book also shows how interconnected the world is, at least since the 20th century. German scientists discovering molecules indirectly leads to the USA passing stronger FDA regulations talk about unexpected consequences!

    18. Fascinating history, not just of the sulfa drugs, but of the remaking of modern medicine for better (turning doctors from poorly paid people that could only predict and console into the practical scientists they are today) and for worse (human trial research methods being pioneered in nazi death camps, the rise of giant pharmaceutical companies that now have a stranglehold on the industry).Not only this, but there are some amazing biographical stories as well that will stick with you. For me, th [...]

    19. Excellent. A really compelling story and well written. The thing I loved most about this book is how it prefaced so many of the trends we take for granted now about drug regulation and drug discovery. The author was effective at conveying the magnitude of the discovery - it is simply unimiganible to me that people 100 years ago lived in a world where strep throat was often fatal and women were so likely to die after childbirth from infection. My only wish was that the author would have delved a [...]

    20. A totally fascinating book. Very readable by the lay reader. About how chemists and physicians discovered the first anti-bacterial, anti-biotic drugs, and forever changed the course of medicine, and all kinds of other things. It's a fascinating view of how quickly these developments have taken place - less than 100 years ago, most doctors didn't attend medical school, there was no such thing as control by prescription of the distribution of drugs to patients. There were no requirements that in o [...]

    21. Discovered almost accidentally by German scientists, the Sulfa class of antibiotics was one of the first modern (and effective) means of combating the ills that plagued mankind for eons prior to its arrival. In a Bayer laboratory, a team of chemists and researchers, more suited to continuing to pump out the dyes that made its company a landmark chemical company, than to creating a miracle cure, happened upon Sulfaprim. Those old enough to remember have my astonishment for living through such a w [...]

    22. Highly readable account of the discovery and influence of the world's first antibiotic-like substance. I thought it raised an a lot of interesting ethical questions. If you have a new medicine that can save lives, do you throw it out there as quickly as possible to reach people sooner, or spend time testing it to make sure that there aren't unintended consequences? How do you balance the competing needs of providing affordable medicines to the ill & dying, and the companies that need to earn [...]

    23. I tend to like medical thrillers. I then to like nonfiction about medical breakthroughs and medical advances. This book does lay out a story but it actually gets sidetracked fr4om its given premise. We are told we'll be looking at the development of Sulfa and it's effect on medicine and bacterial disease. We do but in a very round about way. The book turns into a series of short biographies. These don't actually hold up well (at least for me) as they to tended to wander a bit.Just me of course b [...]

    24. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I thought it translated really well to that media. What I especially loved about this book was how great of a public health story it was. Caveat: I love public health and medical history, so my feelings about this book might not be shared by people less interested in this genre. In other words, I am a nerd, and I thought this book was awesome. [Also, as someone who is about to enter the field of clinical research, I was especially interested to learn that [...]

    25. This book had my nerd-sense tingling.I love medical history. A) Science. B) History. Throw in a Jane Austen somehow and you'd have my trifecta.I had read about penicillin (cool book--forgot the name) but this is about sulfa drugs and the Bayer industry and WWII and the ins and outs, and how it started the FDA in a way.There are so many threads to this tale, and yet they were woven beautifully and coherently. I couldn't wait to get back to this book every time I was away.If you like not dying of [...]

    26. This was a very entertaining popular history about the discovery of the sulpher drugs in the middle of the 20th century. I didn't even know that there were sulpher drugs before I read the book. They were used to cure a bunch of diseases and had wide spread use during the second world war though were eventually eclipsed by the anti-biotics. Popular history books are good because they cover the subject but also focus on indivdual personalities and background on a bunch of related topics.

    27. This book gives lots of interesting facts on what happened to people after a injury during both Wars. It also gives multiple stories from different centuries. Like how surgeons started using antiseptics, or how they didn't use it. *if you are gentlemen you didn't need to wash your hands between surgeries because gentlemen did not have dirty hands duhhhh

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