Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bleeding 'Em Dry

Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker

Summary: On a cold day in December 1667 the renegade physician Jean Denis transfused ten ounces of calf's blood into Antoine Mauroy, a madman. Several days and several transfusions later, Mauroy was dead and Denis was framed for murder. A riveting and wide-reaching history, Blood Work shows how blood transfusion became swept up in personal vendettas, international intrigues, and the war between science and superstition. In a foreshadowing of today's stem cell and cloning debates, proponents saw transfusion as a long-awaited cure to deadly illnesses, while others worried that science was toying with forces of nature, perhaps even paving the way for monstrous hybrid creatures. Taking us from the highest ranks of society to the lowest, Holly Tucker introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters, all ruthless contenders in the battle over transfusion. Finally, in a feat of historical research, she reveals the true identities of Mauroy's murderers—and their motivations to kill.

Review: A tale of blood transfusion, murder, rivalries, and a good dose of medical history.

For me, history is a fascinating subject, especially medical history. It allows you a glimpse into what people’s lives were like hundreds of years ago. It really is incredible how far we have come in the past hundred years. There are so many new advances that would have been unimaginable to people hundreds of years ago. I am glad to live in such a medically advanced age. Medical histories can be downright scary. I cringe when I think about a time when bleeding people was considered a standard medical practice.

I felt so bad for all the poor animals that were killed or tortured during experiments with blood and blood transfusion. As terrible as it is, they didn’t seem to have any other way to learn about blood. You couldn’t use dead bodies since they had no blood flow. It was fascinating to learn about what they thought that blood transfusion would do to people, including turning them into the animal from whence they had gotten the blood from. I can only imagine how far blood transfusion could have gotten if it wasn’t stopped so early in its tracks. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy medical history. 

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