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April 15, 2014 / Leslie

Review and Giveaway: The Remedy by Thomas Goetz

RemedyThe Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
by Thomas Goetz

Genre: History / Science
Publisher: Gotham
Publish Date: April 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 320 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher:

The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world’s most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.

In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB – often called consumption – was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB. Koch soon embarked on a remedy — a remedy that would be his undoing.

My Thoughts:

With all our modern advances in medicine and science it’s easy to forget how primitive the practice of medicine was in the 19th Century. Doctors did not know what caused a disease or that it could be contagious or spread from person to person. They didn’t wash their hands or sterilize medical instruments. This began to change towards the end of the century with the acceptance of the Germ Theory of disease.

The Remedy begins with the history of the germ theory and the two men who worked to discover the origins of disease. Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur each demonstrated that diseases are caused by microorganisms. Joseph Lister also contributed to the germ theory with his use of antiseptic surgical techniques. Interesting factoid: In 1879, Listerine mouthwash was named after him for his work in antisepsis.

The section about Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and the scientific method, although very interesting, was only tangentially connected to the cure for tuberculosis. Doyle was trained as a physician and was interested in Koch’s work, but the two never met. Eventually Doyle went on to write full-time and abandoned medicine.

Extremely well researched and filled with fascinating information, we learn not only of their scientific discoveries, but also get a glimpse into the personal lives of those involved. I was amazed at the rivalry and the amount of jealousy between Koch and Pasteur and the lengths to which Koch was willing to go to be the first to develop a cure for tuberculosis.

This is a compelling and very readable story about an important time in medical history. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand or enjoy it.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of The Remedy to give away to a reader with a US mailing address. To enter, fill out the form below on or before April 26th. For an extra entry tweet or blog the giveaway and include the link. I will draw a random winner who will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

[Giveaway Has Ended]

Winner: Carl Scott

Source: Review copy provided by Gotham Books.
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Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Apr 15 2014 10:38 am

    As far as medicine has come, I think it’s still a guessing game. This sounds fascinating!


  2. Suko / Apr 15 2014 7:58 pm

    This does sound fascinating! I will add this giveaway to my blog’s sidebar. Thanks for hosting this, Leslie!


  3. stacybuckeye / Apr 20 2014 7:56 pm

    Great giveaway. Jason would LOVE this!



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