Engrossing secrets of the sanguine.
British journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate, 2013, etc.) astutely probes the historical uses, misconceptions, taboos, and personal and professional value of human blood, “a medicine, a lifesaver, and a commodity that is dearer than oil.” In a text that is both fascinating and informative, the author explores blood-borne disorders, medical uses, benefits, detriments, and wonders. An intriguing tour of the largest European blood donation facility reveals the cooled, pressurized environment that keeps stored plasma dust and insect-free—though not unbiased, since England’s National Health Service enacted its “male donor preference” in 2003 after the rejection of female blood donations due to their hormone-heavy chemistry. George also profiles the thriving volunteer fleet of “blood bikers” delivering blood (and other essential bodily fluids) to health care centers around the clock. She writes that the worldwide shortage of this precious resource is as real as medical science’s inability to comprehend and successfully replicate it, although the research supporting synthetic blood sounds promising. The author also highlights the importance of exsanguination via hermaphroditic leeches and the pioneering legacy of hematological researcher Janet Vaughan. Particularly gripping are chapters featuring interviews with HIV-positive South African youth and sections thoughtfully detailing the evolution and “intent and cunning” resilience of the HIV virus, which virologists describe with awe and dread simultaneously. George vividly presents sections on the demonization of menstruation and the anomaly of “fake menstruating men” alongside notes on “blood rejuvenation” and a clever interview with India’s “Menstrual Man,” who risked his marriage and reputation to radically revolutionize the sanitary pad industry in his native land and beyond. The author packs her book with the kinds of provocative, witty, and rigorously reported facts and stories sure to make readers view the integral fluid coursing through our veins in a whole new way.
An intensive, humanistic examination of blood in all its dazzling forms and functions.