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Oxford USA via B & T
01 September 2006
Here David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines--and beyond. Drawing on newly available papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and other key players, Oshinsky paints a suspenseful portrait of the race for the cure, weaving a dramatic tale centered on the furious rivalry between Salk and Sabin. He also tells the story of Isabel Morgan, perhaps the most talented of all polio researchers, who might have beaten Salk to the prize if she had not retired to raise a family.

Oshinsky offers an insightful look at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was founded in the 1930s by FDR and Basil O'Connor, it revolutionized fundraising and the perception of disease in America. Oshinsky also shows how the polio experience revolutionized the way in which the government licensed and tested new drugs before allowing them on the market, and the way in which the legal system dealt with manufacturers' liability for unsafe products. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, Oshinsky reveals that polio was never the raging epidemic portrayed by the media, but in truth a relatively uncommon disease. But in baby-booming America--increasingly suburban, family-oriented, and hygiene-obsessed--the specter of polio, like the specter of the atomic bomb, soon became a cloud of terror over daily life. Both a gripping scientific suspense story and a provocative social and cultural history, Polio opens a fresh window onto postwar America.
By:   David Oshinsky (George Littlefield Professor of History George Littlefield Professor of History University of Texas)
Imprint:   Oxford USA via B & T
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 157mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   501g
ISBN:   9780195307146
ISBN 10:   0195307143
Pages:   368
Publication Date:   01 September 2006
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Polio: An American Story

A rich and illuminating analysis.... The story of polio captures all the drama of high-profile and high-stakes research in an America in social flux: the tension between sober scientists and sensationalistic media; experimental disagreements grounded more in envy and ego than in technical details and data; contested credit for breakthroughs between those who labor at the laboratory bench and those who work at the patient's bedside. --Jerome Groopman, The New York Times Book Review Narrative history doesn't get much better.... Oshinsky illuminates Salk's competitors...and after Salk's triumph, he turns to Albert Sabin, whose live-virus vaccine became officially preferred before mass immunization with Salk's was finished. He confirms...that Sabin was a real SOB as well as a good scientist, but...airs trenchant criticism of Salk, too. Further, he brings the story down to the recent reemergence of Salk's vaccine and the present, when the WHO hopes for polio's ultimate eradication in 2008. --Booklist (starred review) Teases out the broader context of polio as a historian should. --Financial Times An easily approachable yet factually rich narrative.... Oshinsky provides a very readable and enlightening history that also can be appreciated as good storytelling. --Science Excellent.... Oshinsky does a good job of recounting famous tales from the war on polio.... The book also unearths some of the fascinating forgotten stories. --The Economist Readable, often exciting, filled with ambitious characters, it is science writing at its most engrossing.... Oshinsky brings to compelling life the work and conflicts among these researchers and their killed-versus-live-virus approaches..... 'Polio: An American Story' is definitive, an accessible and memorable account of the great American gift for, occasionally, pulling together across generations, races and economic divisions. --Floyd Skloot, Newsday Oshinsky vividly retells one of the g


  • Winner of Pulitzer Prize for History 2006.
  • Winner of Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for history.

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