Polio: An American Story

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Oxford University Press, Apr 12, 2005 - History - 368 pages
10 Reviews
Here David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines--and beyond. Drawing on newly available papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and other key players, Oshinsky paints a suspenseful portrait of the race for the cure, weaving a dramatic tale centered on the furious rivalry between Salk and Sabin. He also tells the story of Isabel Morgan, perhaps the most talented of all polio researchers, who might have beaten Salk to the prize if she had not retired to raise a family. Oshinsky offers an insightful look at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was founded in the 1930s by FDR and Basil O'Connor, it revolutionized fundraising and the perception of disease in America. Oshinsky also shows how the polio experience revolutionized the way in which the government licensed and tested new drugs before allowing them on the market, and the way in which the legal system dealt with manufacturers' liability for unsafe products. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, Oshinsky reveals that polio was never the raging epidemic portrayed by the media, but in truth a relatively uncommon disease. But in baby-booming America--increasingly suburban, family-oriented, and hygiene-obsessed--the specter of polio, like the specter of the atomic bomb, soon became a cloud of terror over daily life. Both a gripping scientific suspense story and a provocative social and cultural history, Polio opens a fresh window onto postwar America.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - slug9000 - LibraryThing

Going into this book, I knew very little about the efforts to eliminate polio in the United States. I'd heard of Jonas Salk but knew nothing about his background or the contribution of other ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Nero56 - LibraryThing

This is a very interesting look back over the disease of polio and the research into it. Reads more like a fiction novel. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The First Epidemics
8
2 Warm Springs
24
3 Cripples Money
43
4 And They Shall Walk
61
5 Poster Children Marching Mothers
79
6 The Apprenticeship of Jonas Salk
92
7 Pathway to a Vaccine
112
12 The Biggest Public Health Experiment Ever
188
13 The Cutter Fiasco
214
14 Mission to Moscow
237
15 Sabin Sundays
255
16 Celebrities and Survivors
269
Epilogue
287
Notes
289
Selected Bibliography
328

8 The Starting Line
128
9 Seeing Beyond the Microscope
145
10 Plague Season
161
11 The Rivals
174
Acknowledgments
333
Index
335
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About the author (2005)

David M. Oshinsky is George Littlefield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. A leading historian of modern American politics and society, he is the author of A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy and "Worse Than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, both of which won major prizes and were New York Times Notable Books.

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