Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood

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Ballantine Books, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 290 pages
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"We're born in blood. Our family histories are contained in it, our bodies nourished by it daily. Five quarts run through each of us, along some sixty thousand miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries."
-from" "Five Quarts"
In the national bestseller Sleep Demons, Bill Hayes took us on a trailblazing trip through the night country of insomnia. Now he is our guide on a whirlwind journey through history, literature, mythology, and science by means of the great red river that runs five quarts strong through our bodies.
Profusely illustrated, the journey stretches from ancient Rome, where gladiators drank the blood of vanquished foes to gain strength and courage, to modern-day laboratories, where high-tech machines test blood for diseases and dedicated scientists search for elusive cures. Along the way, there will be world-changing triumphs: William Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood; Antoni van Leeuwenhoek's advances in making the invisible world visible in the early days of the microscope; Dr. Paul Ehrlich's Nobel-Prize-winning work in immunology; Dr. Jay Levy's codiscovery of the virus that causes AIDS. Yet there will also be ignorance and tragedy: the widespread practice of bloodletting via incision and the use of leeches, which harmed more than it healed; the introduction of hemophilia into the genetic pool of nineteenth-century European royalty thanks to the dynastic ambitions of Queen Victoria; the alleged spread of contaminated blood through a phlebotomist's negligence in modern-day California.
This is also a personal voyage, in which Hayes recounts the impact of the vital fluid in his daily life, from growing up in a household of five sisters andtheir monthly cycles, to coming out as a gay man during the explosive early days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, to his enduring partnership with an HIV-positive man.
As much a biography of blood as it is a memoir of how this rich substance has shaped one man's life, "Five Quarts" is by turns whimsical and provocative, informative and moving. It will get under your skin.

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User Review  - dickmanikowski - LibraryThing

An interesting collection of essays which trace the science and cultural significance of human blood. At the same time, the author (a gay man in a long-term relationship with a lover infected with ... Read full review

FIVE QUARTS: A Personal and Natural History of Blood

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A spry personal tour of hematology, from the author of Sleep Demons (2001).In blood, Hayes finds many of life's milestones. We are born in it, our family histories are defined by it, it permeates our ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Born in Minneapolis in 1961 and raised in Spokane, Bill Hayes studied writing at Santa Clara University & has worked for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Library Foundation, & the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. His work has been published in "The New York Times Magazine", "Details", &, among other publications.

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