The Roots of Progress

Miracle Cure

The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine

William Rosen

The story of antibiotics, with a focus on the origins of the industry. Beginning in the era before even the germ theory, it tells how pathogens were first identified, and then cures: from Salvorsan, to sulfanilamides, to penicillin, to broad-spectrum antibiotics. It ends with the expansion of the FDA in the 1960s and the establishment of standards for clinical trials.

I enjoyed this book and it left me eager to learn more about the development of medicine. There’s enough material here to appreciate the hard work done by first dozens and then hundreds or thousands of researchers. It gives enough of the science to understand the problems and solutions, and gives just enough of the human drama to make a compelling story without overwhelming the technology aspects.

Recommended for any reader with a general interest in the history of technology.

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