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review 2017-09-24 12:52
Spitting Blood/ glazing eyes
Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis - Helen Bynum

In all of human history, no infectious disease has claimed more human lives than Tuberculosis ("TB"). The reason for the large numbers is that unlike other big killers (e.g. malaria) it exists in all climates. TB has causes epidemics among Eskimos, in the Sahara Desert, in New Guinea... etc. Everywhere. So that's why I picked this book up. 

 

Technically the book delivers what it promises, but it does so in a very distant, unengaging way. I'm sure all the information here is correct, but delivered in such a dry style as to  make it tedious and forgettable.Medical history doesn't have to be that way; three nonfiction medical history books with far superior narrative come to mind:

 

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus  (Richard Preston);

 

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (John M. Barry);

 

and The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time (John Kelly).

 

The fix, I think, is one of either two things:  (1) give the book a more human element to make it more readable as a mainstream nonfiction book; or (2) give more technical detail and just make it a full-blown textbook that most people outside of the field probably wouldn't read for personal enjoyment. 

 

That said, I thought the first 1/3 of the book had some pretty good parts, describing how tuberculosis (TB) is actually a family of organisms, some of which infect humans, but some which live apart from us in the animal kingdom. Identifying DNA from TB can be recovered from ancient bones, and they show that a form of TB called Mycobacterium bovis resided in cows long before cows were domesticated by humans. TB was not seen in ancient humans before the time cows were domesticated, but afterwards a human-infecting form called Mycobacterium tuberculosis evolved. 

 

So cows gave us tuberculosis. Something to think about, when you're standing in line at McDonald's, I guess. 

 

The complexity of the tuberculosis family, and the many different subsets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has confounded a lot of research over the years. Different strains have different resistances to various medications, and different geographic distributions. When immigrants from different places came to the "melting pot" of New York in the late 1800's, this created some weird patterns, where some populations seemed to come down with much more aggressive strains of TB than others... leading doctors of the time to believe that some populations had more "natural resistance" to TB. As you can imagine, this fed in to some ideas about race and eugenics which are pretty horrifying and embarrassing by 2017 standards. 

 

The book wraps up with interesting developments in India (a leader in TB research) just since 2000, which shows that short-course, aggressive (high-dose, high-intensity), home-based treatments (i.e. oral medications, as opposed to i.v. based or surgery-based) directed at the newly-infected have a much greater efficacy than long-term, sanitorium-based treatments. 

 

TB has not gone away, and may resurge with great force, if poverty, overcrowding, war, or evolution of the organism to more drug-resistant forms give it the opportunity. What probably has gone away is the age of large TB sanitoriums like are written about in The Rack (A.E. Ellis) or The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann).

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text 2017-09-20 03:58
Reading progress update: I've read 258 out of 343 pages.
Blood Reckoning - Danielle Ramsay

a few minor quibbles over writing style aside, this has been a very satisfying Crime novel. I hope she's got a dynamite ending ready to go, tomorrow morning, when I immerse myself in this again. meanwhile...I had really been planning to go straight to The Sinner next--and it's still a very, very tempting choice--but I have a small worry that it will be a little too similar to what I'm reading now. another thing is, I've just joined a new Group at Booklikes where we will discuss Crime & Mystery novels published roughly between 1900-1970, and it would be cool to have a fresh reading choice to talk about, at the Group, sooner rather than later. then again, no real reason to rush. and for reasons even I can't explain, The Sinner is a tractor beam of a book...the premise, I guess, plus how the TV version has been received? anyway, tomorrow all of this will be resolved!

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review 2017-09-20 01:38
Strong characters, strong connections
Blood Guard: A Mission Novel - Megan Erickson
I did not know what to expect but I got an interesting ride. This is a world where vampires live among humans while a war brews between vampire clans. Athan is sexy, honest, and driven. Tendra has lived an unstable life built on moving and loss of family. With a cat as her companion, she finds a way to trust Athan and make decisions that affect her life as well as others. The two of them are a strong couple and will do anything for each other. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next one.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
 
 

 

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text 2017-09-20 01:30
Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 343 pages.
Blood Reckoning - Danielle Ramsay

of course you can expect to be questioned by the cops about a murder victim, if you are proven to have been ranting about the precise mutilation you were going to enact on him roughly 15 minutes before time-of-death...and the corpse thusly mutilated. however, Brady's resultant interview with a major suspect who likes to issue grotesque threats has opened a whole other can of worms. and yet, that also seems too easy, too early.

 

I'm going to try and read a bit more of this addictive book later tonight before beddy-bye, so that I have a fighting chance of wrapping it up in time I allot myself tomorrow morning. we'll see.

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text 2017-09-19 15:13
Reading progress update: I've read 83 out of 343 pages.
Blood Reckoning - Danielle Ramsay

I think it's a marvellous Crime novel, and I'm right ruddy hooked--but the description of what was done to the first (not counting the old murders from 1977 that mirror this new one) male victim are not for the squeamish. the author is somewhere between "not horribly gratuitous" and "certainly not shy about it". anyway, whoever this Joker Killer is--whether it be the sicko from years ago, or a copycat, or someone trying to create the illusion of a copycat, it's all very captivating, as is the great characterization for all the players. hard not to like Brady right off the bat, though he's chock full of human error.

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