A readable tale of medical achievement.




The story of the conquest of diabetes.

In roughly chronological order, Cooper and Ainsberg weave together the stories of the doctor who ran the first clinic for patients with diabetes, the scientists who first isolated insulin, a young woman among the first to receive the new drug and the research director of the pharmaceutical company that launched its production. The authors focus in turn on Dr. Frederick Allen, whose starvation diet could prolong patients’ lives but not save them; Frederick Banting, the insightful and persistent scientist whose work with the pancreases of dogs isolated insulin; Elizabeth Hughes, daughter of politician Charles Evans Hughes, whose influence enabled her to become one of the first diabetics to be saved by insulin; and George Clowes of Eli Lilly, who immediately saw insulin’s potential and figured out how to produce it commercially. Where research did not provide the necessary dialogue or even the dramatic incidents the authors needed, they have invented their own to enhance the narrative. The result is a work that sometimes reads like a novel, with the characters brought to life through their thoughts, remarks and physical gestures. The irascible Banting, whose hardships, jealousies and struggles with his colleagues seem endless, is perhaps the most fascinating. Young Elizabeth, seen primarily through excerpts from her letters, is a less-realized character than her parents. The authors seem especially intrigued by Elizabeth, however, puzzling over her later refusal to admit to having diabetes and her failure to include diabetes research in her philanthropic efforts. Caroline Cox’s The Fight To Survive: A Young Girl’s Struggle with Diabetes and the Discovery of Insulin (2009) offers a fuller profile of her but a briefer account of the insulin story.

A readable tale of medical achievement.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-64870-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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