cover image Nine Pints: A Journey through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

Nine Pints: A Journey through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

Rose George. Holt, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-1-62779-637-8

Journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything) offers an insightful, fast-paced account of the science, politics, and social history of blood. By visiting places that include a donation center in India and a leech farm in Wales (which, after a 2007 terrorist attack in London, supplied hospitals with leeches used in reconstructive surgery), she explores the fragility of the international blood supply. She writes poignantly about blood-borne viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Zika, and about the difficulty of ensuring that donated blood is safe, as underscored by tainted blood scandals in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1970s and in Canada as recently as 2013. Taboos associated with blood are vividly reported in Nepal, where George interviews young women banned from their homes and forced to sleep in sheds while menstruating, and in India, where she tells the intriguing story of engineer and entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose development and successful marketing of a “low-cost mini sanitary napkin manufacturing machine” began with his wearing a goat-blood-filled fake uterus made from a football. Noting that “every three seconds, somewhere in the world, a person receives a stranger’s blood,” this wide-reaching, lively survey makes clear that blood has become a “commodity that is dearer than oil.” (Oct.)