Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution

Holly Tucker, Author
Holly Tucker, Norton, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-07055-2
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-393-34223-9
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-393-08042-1
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Tucker, associate professor in Vanderbilt University's Center for Medicine, Health and Society, does a marvelous job of chronicling the 17th-century controversy pitting science against religion and shows how much of the language used then against the new technique of blood transfusion mirrors language used today against stem cell research and cloning. In 1667, building on work done in England, Jean-Baptiste Denis, a self-promoting young Frenchman, transfused lamb's blood into a human. His work angered many, including those who believed that the soul was housed in the blood and transfusion was blasphemous; others who clung to bloodletting as a treatment rather than blood transfusions; and those protecting their own scientific reputations from an unknown upstart. When Denis's second transfused patient died suddenly, Denis was accused of murder. Exploring the charge, Tucker unearths compelling evidence that the patient was murdered—by a cabal attempting to discredit Denis. The affair halted all experiments in blood transfusion for 150 years. Tucker's sleuthing adds drama to an utterly compelling picture of Europe at the moment when modern science was being shaped. B&w illus. (Mar.)
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