Translated from the German, the original bore the subtitle A History of Antibiotics. The book is a fascinating source of information for the layman with a taste for the history of medicine and science. The healing practices of ancient and medieval cultures are examined for the unwitting use of antibiotic agents. Repulsive curative methods involving the application of excrement, blood and urine as medicinal components are shown to be factors in the development of antibiotic properties. Their efficacy is attested by their retention as remedies over a long period of time by widely scattered peoples approaching medicine on a trial and error basis. Dr. Bottcher also shows how accidental discoveries by scientific researchers were not accorded therapeutic significance until rediscovered years later. The major discoveries, their uses, side effects, toxicity and immunal responses are presented in human and technical detail without recourse to medical jargon. The connection between antibiotics and vitamins is discussed; its importance to plant and animal growth is stressed and its implications for national economies in terms of world food supply is explored with every opportunity taken to point out the dangers and safeguards in its use. An introductory explanation of terms and an index make this a useful, readable book.