- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (Jan. 25 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780143118824
- ISBN-13: 978-0143118824
- ASIN: 014311882X
- Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.9 x 21.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 318 g
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York Paperback – Jan 25 2011
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“The Poisoner’s Handbook breathes deadly life into the Roaring Twenties.”—Financial Times
“The Poisoner’s Handbook is an inventive history that, like arsenic, mixed into blackberry pie, goes down with ease.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Deborah Blum has not lost the skills of good storytelling she honed as a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Reads like science fiction, complete with suspense, mystery and foolhardy guys in lab coats tipping test tubes of mysterious chemicals into their own mouths.” -- NPR: What We're Reading
“Fans of those TV forensic shows or of novels by Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs or Jefferson Bass will find plenty to satisfy their appetites here.” —The Washington Post
“Blum’s combination of chemistry and crime fiction creates a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madame Curie.”—The New York Observer
“The Poisoner's Handbook opens one riveting murder case after another in this chronicle of Jazz Age chemical crimes where the real-life twists and turns are as startling as anything in fiction. Deborah Blum turns us all into forensic detectives by the end of this expertly written, dramatic page-turner that will transform the way you think about the power of science to threaten and save our lives.”—Matthew Pearl, author of The Technologists and The Dante Club
“With the pacing and rich characterization of a first-rate suspense novelist, Blum makes science accessible and fascinating.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum is a professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin. She worked as a newspaper science writer for twenty years, winning the Pulitzer in 1992 for her writing about primate research. She is the author of Ghost Hunters, coeditor of A Field Guide for Science Writers, and has written about scientific research for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Psychology Today, and Mother Jones. She is the president-elect of the National Association of Science Writers and serves on advisory boards for both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.See all Product description
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The American Experience documentary was based on this book and the author was one of those interviewed in the program. The documentary was very interesting, so I bought the book after watching the documentary.
This is a well written popular history of the development of the New York City Medical Examiner's Office in the early 20th century with particular emphasis on the 1920s and early 1930s, up to the repeal of Prohibition.
The author focuses on Doctors Norris and Gettler, the Medical Examiner's Office chief pathologist and head toxicologist respectively, and details the many political battles between the New York City Mayor's office and the Medical Examiner's Office along with fascinating details of the Medical Examiner's investigations into crime, industrial accidents, working conditions which lead to the deaths of workers and other very interesting subjects.
Apart from the criminal investigations, this book also goes into the New York Medical Examiners' Office investigation of several cases of industrial and workplace incidents. In those pre-Workers Compensation Board times, these New York cases were dealt with by the NY Medical Examiners' Office and the investigation of those cases makes interesting reading. Anyone interested in workplace health and safety issues should find the book's descriptions of these cases to be very informative reading.
The author's bio in the book says she is a science writer but several scientists have left some fairly scathing critiques on Amazon's US site about the flawed scientific details throughout the book. I found the book very interesting but these critiques raise some concerns about the author's credibility and the credibility of the history in the book.
I'm no scientist so I can't respond knowledgeably to their critiques. But I've done a quick check (I emphasize "quick" check; I haven't done any major fact checking here)on some of the historical details in the book and the history seems accurate enough based on a few quick checks on some major details.
This book is aimed at a more general audience. The author writes well and, despite the major critiques of the book's scientific details written on Amazon's US site by scientists, the historical information in the book is very interesting throughout.
Overall, a worthwhile book, although the scientists' critiques mentioned above create some doubt about the book's credibility on scientific details.
For some reason, shortly after I gave it to her, she wanted to start cooking more.
I'm now very suspicious of her motives.
On a positive note, crime labs have these recipes as well - so they will be discovered if your spouse suddenly decides to take up cooking.
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