THE SWEEPING WIND: A Memoir by Paul de Kruif


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Rarely do writers who make their reputations as biographers lead lives that are autobiographically significant. Paul de Kruif, renowned biographer of some of history's leading medical scientists, is a unique exception. The Sweeping Wind of his title is the cool, steady breeze of honest self-appraisal; he has turned his observant glance back upon his own memoirs. Now well into his sixties, Dr. de Kruif (PhD., not M.D.) harks back to his embarkation upon an entirely new journalistic genre, in the days when popular writing on scientific matters had barely begun to stir the editorial imagination. Eschewing the technique of muckraking in the tradition of Steffens and Tarbell, de Kruif was among the first to perfect a respectable expose style. His magazine articles and books outlining public health scandals and medical frauds remain models of objective documentation. His curious association with Sinclair Lewis, leading to the creation of Arrowsmith, and his relationships with many other famous names in the ""world of beautiful letters"" as well as the world of medicine, are discreetly related, complete with revealing glimpses of the sociology and politics of ""big-time science."" Most dramatic of all, and more poignant than any fiction, is his frank and moving personal story. He describes himself as a ""turbulent"" character (the overrepetition of that one word becomes a nuisance), and with touching candor admits his deep devotion and indebtedness to his second wife and true help meet through their 35 years of marriage. It is an unusual experience to read such a straightforward, sensible, yet exciting autobiography. The man who made ""microbe hunters"" a household phrase could not have fared better or more justly as the hands of his greatest admirer.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1961
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World