books

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. This book is about those scientists and their goal to find a cure for infectious diseases.

The demon under the microscope is a book 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 comprehensive way.

This specific book talks about finding sulfonamidochrysoidine, 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 three scientists involved in finding sulfanilamide: Gerhard Domagk, Josef Klarer and Mietzsch.  This book talks about all three 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 the 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 so it could make a nice gift to any medical/chemistry student.
It’s one of those books that shows that’s a success story without idealizing everything that preceded Prontosil and even after using Prontosil there were still a lot of issues these scientists and their surroundings faced.

I hope you enjoyed this book review. I tried not to spoil the book but I hope that I’ve been able to at least spark your interest. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone out there. Let me know if you’ve read it (or going to read it) in the comments down below!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe