I just finished reading Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky. I borrowed it from our friends Nick & Kristy. I don't get to read nearly as much as I would like -- usually just for about 30 minutes before I fall asleep. So when I do read, I really like to capitalize on learning at the same time.
I was hesitant with this book but thought it had potential when I picked it up off of Nick and Kristy's shelf. So I gave it a try. Folks, it was fantastic. Oshinky wrote a detailed history of this disease while not boring me even a little bit. I'm still not sure how he did it. How do you entertain a layperson (me!) with the history of a scientific disease and the race for a cure.
Things I learned that I didn't know before:
- Polio was a relatively uncommon disease -- but incredibly feared.
- It was made so incredibly popular by Roosevelt succumbing to the disease in his 30's.
- It received an incredible amount of fundraising despite the fact that it effected a relatively small percentage of people.
- Many children and adults were injured or killed as the result of polio by a bad batch of the vaccine in the first year of dispensation.
- There is a huge difference between a live and dead virus vaccine.
I don't want to get into a huge debate about vaccines for children, but I believe our parents never debated the need to vaccinate because they were some of the first recipients of the polio vaccine. Our grandparents were effected but our parents were spared because of brilliant scientific minds. Yes, some people are negatively effected by vaccines, but as you read this book, you are reminded that the risk is definitely worth it.
Awesome book! If you like historical pieces, you'll love this -- even if you aren't really into science (because I'm not.)