Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Microbe Hunters

Every now and then I have to talk about a book I'm reading. (Yes,probably when I should be washing the laundry or mopping the floor, but oh well, I'll not make excuses tonight.)

This book has been one of my favorites for years, and every time I read it, I marvel.
Well because it is a college textbook and it's interesting. Yes, you heard all those words in the same sentence. I know, unfathomable. You have to read the book. It's called: Microbe Hunters, was first printed in 1926, and is the history of those great men who spent their lives understanding germs and how to get rid of them. From Leeuwenhoek to Walter Reed, it traces the discoveries, vaccines, campaigns, and sacrifices that would ultimately save lives, win wars, and stop tears from running down many a face. The writer is Paul de Kruif. He writes with a pleasant, easy going style that carries you effortlessly through chapter after chapter--through labs and hospital corridors and even into netted sleeping tents in the jungles of the Caribbean. It's an adventure.

Just to give an example of the author's pleasant forthright style, I'm posting his introduction:

When I wrote the book you're going to have to read now, I never dreamed it would ever be made into a textbook that you folks would have to read in hours when you'd rather be playing football or dancing or raising the dickens generally.

I wrote it first of all because I had my bread and butter to make by writing books, and microbe hunting was what I knew better than anything, having been a microbe hunter myself. And it was more exciting than anything I knew; so, putting those two things together, I figured the book might help me make my living.

That's the real reason I did it, not because it was of any tremendous significance or importance or because I wanted to bother you people. But I always did like these microbe hunters, because they were human, making mistakes, quarreling, trying, mostly failing but barging back into the battle again, not giving up.

They weren't all brain with no body nor were they stuffed shirts with empty skulls as you sometimes find folks with big names to be. The best thing about them was that they stayed kids after they'd grown up. That's why they had such a good time digging and digging at jobs most people would call monotonous. They were really just playing.

You can buy this book online. The new version sells for around ten dollars, used books for less than three. (I have the 1948 version)

I'd write more...but...well...you know I really want to get back to my reading.


Carina said...

I've never actually read this one, even though I remember seeing it around all the time. I'll have to borrow it.

aftergrace said...

I'll have to check out this book, it sounds really interesting.

Short Poems said...

This book seems really interesting :)
Nice blog xx