For children today, the word "polio" means little more than a series of shots, a mundane part of health care. Fifty years ago, however, polio was a dark shadow that arrived every summer, a deep fear hanging over every child and parent. Every year, the disease left tens of thousands of children crippled, paralyzed or, worse, reliant on an iron lung to aid them in breathing. Time
magazine senior writer Kluger, coauthor of the bestselling book that was the basis for the movie Apollo 13,
tells how polio was beaten 50 years ago in one of the triumphs of modern medicine. The narrative naturally centers on Jonas Salk, whose lab developed the first polio vaccine, but this is by no means a simple biography. Kluger is best when describing science as a team enterprise, and this account offers a keen understanding of the vast machine of people and resources mobilized to combat polio. The book is well researched and accessible, made all the more tense and gripping by the author's depiction of the pre-vaccine world—by describing what it was like to live in fear of polio, Kluger reminds us how joyous and heroic an event its conquest was. B&w photos not seen by PW
. Agent, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Feb. 1)
The 50th anniversary of Salk's polio vaccine will be commemorated by a Smithsonian exhibit, among other events. This year is also the World Health Organization's target for eliminating polio worldwide. Sales for this title by a previously bestselling aut
hor should be very brisk.