MICROBES AND MEN by Robert Reid

MICROBES AND MEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Reid plunges headlong into problems of scientific creativity and development -- and flounders. There is much information here: Mary Wortley Montagu's ""dilettante discovery"" of smallpox inoculation; Ignaz Semmelweis and his ""cadavaric particle"" theory of puerperal fever; Joseph Lister and his use of carbolic acid; Louis Pasteur's breakthrough and his rivalry with Robert Koch; Emil Behring and the first antitoxin; Paul Ehrlich and the advent of chemotherapy; Alexander Fleming and penicillin; Almoth Wright and the advances of immunology; and much more. But the conclusions are pedestrian indeed. Scientists, he writes, are often ""hypomanic""; ""competitiveness"" is important in discovery; other motives (nationalism, money) may he involved, but rarely is a ""desire to help suffering humanity"" a factor; genius is integral to the process, but remains an inexplicable phenomenon. Not only is this reductive and vague but it is trivial.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Dutton