Book review: The demon under the microscope by Thomas Hager

Our knowledge about infectious diseases is currently quite exhaustive, but there were times when most people died about infectious diseases. Where scientists tried everything and anything to find a cure. The demon under the microscope is a book about those scientists and their goal to find a cure for infectious diseases.

The book was written by Thomas Hager, the same author who wrote two books about Linus Paulin and the Alchemy of air. Both books that I now have on my reading list. Thomas Hager is one of the few authors who write about the history of science in a very comprehensive way. The book is never boring or tiring, it takes the reader on a journey through history and does that in a great way.

This book specifically talks about finding sulfonamidochrysoïdine, the first antibacterial antibiotic on the market. If you’ve read our scientist of the day post last week you’ll know that there were actually four scientists involved in finding sulfanilamide: Gerhard Domagk, Josef Klarer and Mietzsch were the three main scientist who were actively involved whereas Paul Ehrlich was also present but more on the background.  The book talks about all four of them and about the people around them who had either the same or different aspirations and how they influenced each other. Though you might not assume this just by reading the title, there is a big part of this book dedicated to the surrounding of the protagonists. The companies around them but also how world war influenced and shaped them. It also addresses the economical drive of pharmaceuticals and the problems that shaped the pharmaceutical industry.

The demon under the microscope is one of the best books I’ve read so far. The writing style is really easy to read. Since it is a science history book it gives insight in the feelings and emotions of different scientists but still focusses most of it’s attention to the bigger picture. It’s definitely a longer book than some of the previous books I’ve read but that means that you’ll have more time to enjoy it. Overall it’s a nice book that will definitely appeal to many science students. It’s a mix between chemistry and medicine.
It’s one of those books that shows that’s a success story without idealizing the struggles that preceded before and even after the biggest discovery of the century. Definitely a must-read in my opinion and a book that will definitely appeal to many people!

I hope you enjoyed this really brief review. I tried not to spoil the book too much but I hope that I’ve been able to at least spark your interest. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone out there.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

2 thoughts

  1. My great-grandmother died in the flu epidemic of 1917/18. I wish there had been a cure for her at that time. she left four children under nine years old behind.

    Liked by 1 person

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