A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors

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Yale University Press, Sep 11, 1997 - Medical - 384 pages
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A Summer Plague is the most comprehensive and compulsive account of the rise and fall of epidemic poliomyelitis yet written. It takes the story from the first major outbreak of 'Infantile Paralysis' in New York in 1916 - which induced panic on a scale reminiscent of the great plagues of history - through to its lingering aftermath in the shape of the so-called, and still mysterious, Post-Polio Syndrome. Tony Gould's account combines several strands, biographical, political and social as well as clinical and microbiological. He focuses on the individuals who were influential in the treatment and 'conquest' of polio, from the most celebrated polio sufferer of all, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the scientific rivals in the dramatic race to produce a vaccine, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. The story also features FDR's lieutenant, Basil O'Connor, whose 'March of Dimes' became a byword for successful fund-raising, and Sister Elizabeth Kenny, the larger-than-life nurse from the Australian outback who challenged medical orthodoxy and invented 'miracle' cures.

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A summer plague: polio and its survivors

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Jonas Salk's recent death reminds us of one of this century's most dramatic triumphs in public health--the conquest of polio, at least in Western nations. People over 50 readily remember the fear ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Tony Gould was born in 1938 and grew up on a farm in Devon. He served as a National Service officer in the 1/7th Gurkha Rifles and was invalided out of the army with polio in 1959. He read English at Cambridge. He has been a BBC radio producer and literary editor at "New Society" and then, after the two magazines amalgamated, at the "New Statesman". He is the author of several books, including Inside Outsider: the Life and Times of Colin MacInnes (1983, and editor of Absolute MacInnes: the Best of Colin MacInnes, 1985), Death in Chile: a Memoir and a Journey (1992), A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors (1995), Imperial Warriors: Britain and the Gurkhas (1999), and Don't Fence Me In: Leprosy in Modern Times (2005).

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