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Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine

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Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of our culture and the practice of medicine.  ​Beginning with opium, the “joy plant,” which has been used for 10,000 years, Hager tells a captivating story of medicine. His subjects include the largely forgotten female pioneer who introduced smallpox inoculation to Britain, the infamous knockout drops, the first antibiotic, which saved countless lives, the first antipsychotic, which helped empty public mental hospitals, Viagra, statins, and the new frontier of monoclonal antibodies. This is a deep, wide-ranging, and wildly entertaining book.


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Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of our culture and the practice of medicine.  ​Beginning with opium, the “joy plant,” which has been used for 10,000 years, Hager tells a captivating story of medicine. His subjects include the largely forgotten female pioneer who introduced smallpox inoculation to Britain, the infamous knockout drops, the first antibiotic, which saved countless lives, the first antipsychotic, which helped empty public mental hospitals, Viagra, statins, and the new frontier of monoclonal antibodies. This is a deep, wide-ranging, and wildly entertaining book.

30 review for Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra Eggs

    I finished the book. All of it was interesting. The future of drug research is entirely predicated on what profits Big Pharma might make. Cheap drugs that can be sold to the masses, like statins, or $1,000 a pop ones like Humira. (view spoiler)[It is worth reading the whole of that article, or if you must skim, the last couple of sentences. (hide spoiler)] In one way this is very good for us all, the most profitable drugs will be those that do something amazing, like antibiotics, painkillers, the I finished the book. All of it was interesting. The future of drug research is entirely predicated on what profits Big Pharma might make. Cheap drugs that can be sold to the masses, like statins, or $1,000 a pop ones like Humira. (view spoiler)[It is worth reading the whole of that article, or if you must skim, the last couple of sentences. (hide spoiler)] In one way this is very good for us all, the most profitable drugs will be those that do something amazing, like antibiotics, painkillers, the Pill, viagra etc. They will address a health issue in a major way. In another way, it isn't so good. As with the medications designed to stave off the effects of old age, whether it is minor like baldness or major like osteoporosis, the emphasis is and very likely will be, on continual, rest-of-your-life treatment rather than a cure. But without the profit motive, who would invest millions into researching something that would stop Alzheimer's? No government could afford to do so. The title is catchy but incorrect. The true title should have been, "Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills have Shaped the History of our Societies - the book is that good, that informative and so well-written, it's a joy to read. _________ Notes on reading the book I've read the chapter on opium which was interesting in that no one thought it was a harmful drug except the Chinese. That country was devastated by the lethargy and addiction brought on by it, brought on by the British who were the most determined and evil drug dealers that ever existed, resulting in the Opium Wars. In the UK, the drug was thought to be beneficial and added to many medicines for children as well as adults. In particular it was thought of as a woman's drug. The middle and upper class women indulged in their after-dinner (and at all other times) reveries while the men drank port! The second chapter was a history of vaccination against smallpox. It wasn't the usual fake history of Edward Jenner noticing that dairymaids who had previously had the very mild cowpox never got smallpox and inoculating people with a small amount of infectious material thereby gaining himself the title, 'Father of Vaccination'. The truth of the matter was that on a diplomatic posting to Turkey with her husband, Lady Mary Montagu, saw that women in harems had beautiful complexions and discovered that they were having smallpox pus scraped into their skin resulting in a mild case of smallpox, no scarring and up and about in a couple of days. She brought this to England, publicly having her baby daughter inoculated. What followed is a horror story. Instead of following the Turkish method, English physicians were isolating children giving them weeks of repeated laxatives, bloodlettings and low-fibre diets to 'prepare' them. Some children became terribly ill, but the physicians became terribly rich from all this 'preparatory treatment'. One of the children was Edward Jenner and thence grew the myth...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    There's plenty of interesting information in this book. However, the author's chatty, informal writing style began grating on me after a while. It was as though this very complex topic was intentionally being dumbed down. About half way through I confess to skimming a bit here and there. Hence the two stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Really interesting books about several popular and some life saving drugs. The part I liked best was the focus on the money angle--what kind of drugs sell (lipitor and viagra for example) and how the profit motive makes for bad decisionmaking in drug research. We tend to assume that patent protection and the ability to make tons of money leads to better drugs, but it leads to drugs like viagra. Turns out there isn't all that much money in life-saving drugs that you just take once and are done wi Really interesting books about several popular and some life saving drugs. The part I liked best was the focus on the money angle--what kind of drugs sell (lipitor and viagra for example) and how the profit motive makes for bad decisionmaking in drug research. We tend to assume that patent protection and the ability to make tons of money leads to better drugs, but it leads to drugs like viagra. Turns out there isn't all that much money in life-saving drugs that you just take once and are done with the disease. Most of those were created by researchers who were just doing it for the science.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A wonderful book on drugs and their impact on society I had read “Alchemy of Air” by Thomas Hager and so I had high expectations for “10 Drugs” and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. The book has everything I like: clearly explained medicine and science, lots of history, and social implications of the drugs. Hager’s appraisal is honest - he thinks drugs are a good thing but that the drug companies are much less so. Hager is a great writer, and as with some of the drugs in the book, his writing A wonderful book on drugs and their impact on society I had read “Alchemy of Air” by Thomas Hager and so I had high expectations for “10 Drugs” and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. The book has everything I like: clearly explained medicine and science, lots of history, and social implications of the drugs. Hager’s appraisal is honest - he thinks drugs are a good thing but that the drug companies are much less so. Hager is a great writer, and as with some of the drugs in the book, his writing is addictive. The book was hard to put down. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in medicine and its history. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley for review purposes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Ten Drugs is as informative as it is entertaining. The history of ten drugs or family of drugs and the influence on medicine and society they had is at the core of this book. The financial aspects of the pharmaceutical industry were what I found most interesting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    WSJ review: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ten-drug...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    A history of pharmacology that spotlights 10 drugs. Each drug is marketed as a wonder only to be undone by its side effects. Pros and cons to each one, yet it seems like people think there will still be a "magic bullet." Excellent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evan Wondrasek

    I decided to read this book because I was craving learning something new, and drugs are fascinating because I still don't really understand how they work. (One of my previous favorite books about drugs is Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich , which focuses on amphetamines and their prevalence in WWII.) I loved this book. Deeply researched and well-written, it covered both the chemistry and especially the history and origins of many significant drugs, including opioids/opiates, anti-psychotics, and I decided to read this book because I was craving learning something new, and drugs are fascinating because I still don't really understand how they work. (One of my previous favorite books about drugs is Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich , which focuses on amphetamines and their prevalence in WWII.) I loved this book. Deeply researched and well-written, it covered both the chemistry and especially the history and origins of many significant drugs, including opioids/opiates, anti-psychotics, and statins. I especially appreciated some of the context the author provided about how drugs get marketed vs. their effectiveness, like statins. Although statins have a huge impact on lowering bad cholesterol - basically a miracle drug - that alone doesn't seem to make a significant difference in people dying of heart disease. And even though their side effects are minimal, they aren't zero. One of the examples he presents is that marketing for a name-brand statin suggests that, in clinical trials, it reduced incidences of heart disease by something like 33%. When he dug into the data, he found that they took a population of 400 patients, divided them into two groups of 200, then gave one group the statin and gave the second group a sugar pill placebo. In the group with the statin, 2 individuals had heart attacks. In the group with the placebo, 3 individuals had heart attacks. That was the basis for their marketing: if 3 people having heart attacks is "normal" with the placebo, and 2 people had heart attacks while on the statin, you apparently get a 33% reduction. Out of 400 people. That's some stretchy math right there; I might have said that the likelihood of a heart attack based on their data was 1% with the statin and 1.5% with the placebo, for a whopping reduction of 0.5%. And if I remember what I read correctly, that reduction is pretty close to the increased chance you get of developing diabetes while on statins. So: it's complicated. This book covered other topics like the comparative over-medication of Americans vs. people from other countries, how the development of medicines transitioned from unlocking all of the "low-hanging fruit" in the 19th and 20th centuries and new drugs are extremely complex and expensive to develop, and where the author thinks drugs are going in the future. (These books always end with a obligatory "let's muse about the future" chapters, which I'd honestly prefer they just stopped doing -- it's just begging for the book to sound quaint and outdated in the near future.) Since finishing this book, I went on to read another popular book by Thomas Hagar called The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler which was of similar high quality. I'd be up for reading this again in the future, although I'd probably be more interested in digging deeper into a specific drug to learn more about the chemistry aspects rather than the historical.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Every time we take a pill, a shot or vaccination, we rarely think about how it was created, it’s history or the motivation behind it. We take what we need, what we don’t need, and try to keep going about our lives. Thomas Hager breaks down the timeline throughout history on how we got to where we are today through his book, Ten Drugs, by focusing on ten drugs (with a number of honorable mentions) starting with the source of what you could argue started it all: opium. Hager made it very clear in t Every time we take a pill, a shot or vaccination, we rarely think about how it was created, it’s history or the motivation behind it. We take what we need, what we don’t need, and try to keep going about our lives. Thomas Hager breaks down the timeline throughout history on how we got to where we are today through his book, Ten Drugs, by focusing on ten drugs (with a number of honorable mentions) starting with the source of what you could argue started it all: opium. Hager made it very clear in the beginning that the book was written for those who did not have a background in science or medicine. Because of this, the book wasn’t heavy on science or medical terms, was filled with interesting facts and was easy to connect to. Medication, with all the good and bad sides to it, is a fascinating subject and this book made a lot of things clearer. It also was humorous at times to learn how certain medications were discovered and how the anti-vaxxers movement started long before any of us alive today where even born. My fascination with Big Pharma and how prescription medication became a big business had me intrigued to read this book, but now knowing the history and all of the pioneers that have done a lot of good, tried to do a lot of good, and that have done it for the profit made me understand why our society today is greatly influenced by this industry. By the end of the book, I felt the same way as the author. I am grateful and excited for the future of medicine, but personally, I would rather a lot of the focus be turned to eradicating and preventing diseases instead of life-long drug use in order to deal with the symptoms of whatever ailment a person may have and constantly trying to find the next big blockbuster drug.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    I loved this one. It's not a science book per se, if you're looking for chemical structures and detailed descriptions of certain drugs, this may disappoint you. It's written like a novel and the author has a great, engaging way to present information. I got goosebumps at times because you're really feeling with these people and their discoveries (even if it all happened so long ago). Sometimes it's just a tad cheesy, but that was fine for me, I love this. It stays in your mind (especially the Cha I loved this one. It's not a science book per se, if you're looking for chemical structures and detailed descriptions of certain drugs, this may disappoint you. It's written like a novel and the author has a great, engaging way to present information. I got goosebumps at times because you're really feeling with these people and their discoveries (even if it all happened so long ago). Sometimes it's just a tad cheesy, but that was fine for me, I love this. It stays in your mind (especially the Chapter about Lady Mary Montague, which is extremely fitting even today.) The drugs he choose were very interesting as well as the stories behind them, with a huge focus on opioids and the current addiction crisis in the US. So if you read the Introduction, which is a fantastic start to know what you're in for, because the author tells you exactly what his book is / isn't, and like it, I'm sure you'll enjoy the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blake Meredith

    Essential reading. This book delivers a clear-eyed view of drugs and the pharmaceutical industry by using some of history’s most important drugs as examples. This book is particularly interesting for those who are concerned by the current opioid crisis.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was very good. I found the book very interesting. I really enjoyed the stories about how various drugs were discovered & their early uses. There were just a few spots that could have been shorter & where the author spent too much time injecting his personal opinion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adam Yoshida

    A Solid Popular History The book is a loud popular history of the development of modern pharmaceutical drugs. It is particularly solid and enjoyable in its earlier sections, as it details the evolution of various opiates and modern opioids. Likewise, it tells some fairly unknown stories (at least to me) in talking about portions of the earlier history of antibiotics and anti-psychotics. It does lag slightly (and become somewhat political) in the final section, as the drug evolution story intersec A Solid Popular History The book is a loud popular history of the development of modern pharmaceutical drugs. It is particularly solid and enjoyable in its earlier sections, as it details the evolution of various opiates and modern opioids. Likewise, it tells some fairly unknown stories (at least to me) in talking about portions of the earlier history of antibiotics and anti-psychotics. It does lag slightly (and become somewhat political) in the final section, as the drug evolution story intersects with the author’s own life. This one reservation aside, I recommend this book to anyone looking for further insight into how drugs have been and are developed and how they fit into our culture and history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    Fascinating, historical look at ten very important drugs in the medical field, and how their impact affects society in the past, present, and future

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anett Kovacs

    Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager is a fascinating account of 10 drugs/classes of drugs that defined not only the history of medicine, as is suggested in the title, but also humanity's relationship with drugs throughout the last century. Amongst others, the author tells the story of opioids and the drug crises of yesteryear and today, the actual origins of vaccination, tales of antibodies and antibiotics, and the birth of Big Pharma. He narrates Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager is a fascinating account of 10 drugs/classes of drugs that defined not only the history of medicine, as is suggested in the title, but also humanity's relationship with drugs throughout the last century. Amongst others, the author tells the story of opioids and the drug crises of yesteryear and today, the actual origins of vaccination, tales of antibodies and antibiotics, and the birth of Big Pharma. He narrates the history of each drug through the Seige cycle of honeymoon ("magic pills"), followed by nightmarish reports of the dangers and finally a balanced account of risks and rewards. The book is aimed at the general reader, it's not very technical, as the author's intention is to entertain with interesting stories. Nonetheless he also cuts deep into serious issues regarding society's relationship with drugs, Big Pharma and the dangers associated with "magic pills". It's important to keep in mind that "every effective drug, without exception, also comes with potentially dangerous side effects". I really loved this book and can only recommend it for anyone interested in the history of medicine and drug discovery.

  16. 4 out of 5

    RJ

    Though written in a style appealing to a layman, Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine by Thomas Hager provides a good understanding of how certain drugs evolved through the ages – a whodunnit with just enough technical information. It chronicles the discovery of a drug, (whether accidental or a product of research), its successes (always hyped) and failures (seldom acknowledged) in treating various conditions. The author does not come out as being overly Though written in a style appealing to a layman, Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine by Thomas Hager provides a good understanding of how certain drugs evolved through the ages – a whodunnit with just enough technical information. It chronicles the discovery of a drug, (whether accidental or a product of research), its successes (always hyped) and failures (seldom acknowledged) in treating various conditions. The author does not come out as being overly pro-Pharma or anti-Pharma but criticizes the profit-driven "medicalization" of our lives ─ that is, Pharma encouraging the prescribing of drugs even to those who have little risk of developing the target disease.I recommend this book to everyone, especially doctors, pharmacists and health advocates. My son, formerly a medical liaison for major pharmaceutical companies (some mentioned in this book) and now a manager of a regional hospital's pharmacies, took a look at my copy of Ten Drugs and was impressed. He wants to read it next.Complimenting Ten Drugs, another book that provides much insight into drug development, testing and prescribing is Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez, also published March 2019 by Abrams Books. It's a very enlightening discussion of how product design software, data-gathering algorithms, hiring analytics, and, as mentioned, even drug testing and prescribing practices, are all based on the "One-Size-Fits-Men" standard, which can actually be physically harmful to the female gender (think airbag design among other things).I obtained this book through a Goodreads giveaway from Abrams Books. I thank them for this review copy but receiving it from them in no way affected my rating or review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Blake Roche

    I love Thomas Hager's other books, The Demon Under the Microscope and The Alchemy of Air. They're some of my favorite nonfiction writing and I regularly recommend them to friends. But this one is WEIRD. I'm not sure what happened here, but there's just a lot wrong. The author leads early on with the fact that his publisher recommended the idea. I'm not sure if his resulting ideas were guided heavily by them or whether he just had to rush to get this out...but this is definitely his least thoroug I love Thomas Hager's other books, The Demon Under the Microscope and The Alchemy of Air. They're some of my favorite nonfiction writing and I regularly recommend them to friends. But this one is WEIRD. I'm not sure what happened here, but there's just a lot wrong. The author leads early on with the fact that his publisher recommended the idea. I'm not sure if his resulting ideas were guided heavily by them or whether he just had to rush to get this out...but this is definitely his least thorough and least interesting book. The author also mentions in the intro how he writes about MORE than just the 10 drugs in the title...but I'd honestly recommend a new title - "TWO DRUGS that I wanna talk about (opiates and statins), with a few other short stories sprinkled in there to throw you off my trail." Seriously. A full HALF of this book is about opiates and opioids, or at least it felt that way. Sure they're interesting, but it just seems like a long-winded, publisher-driven, pandering-to-the-public over a current outcry blog post. The other chapters are interesting in their small doses (chlorpromazine, smallpox inoculation, and MoAbs), but just as I thought we'd gotten away from opiates, here he comes back with a diatribe on their dangers and commentary on their place in society today. I just don't get it. He ends the book (probably a good quarter) with another blog-post-esque chapter on statins. I can easily see this anger and contrary attitude being the impetus for the entire book as well. The whole thing just feels like a weirdly biased rant about pharmaceuticals with a few interesting stories and facts in between. I've always appreciated Hager's ability to transform bland scientific facts and research into a moving narrative, but here it's just disconnected and agenda-driven. The worst of his books, but still an interesting read I suppose. Check it out? Maybe? Or not.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elentarri

    NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book. Ten Drugs is an entertaining, yet informative look at a number of drugs that have shaped medical history and today's world. This isn't a scholarly history of the pharmaceutical industry, but rather a collection of chapters about a variety of drugs that have shaped medical history. This book is a nicely written (and fascinating) introduction to the history of drug discovery and medicine, as well as p NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book. Ten Drugs is an entertaining, yet informative look at a number of drugs that have shaped medical history and today's world. This isn't a scholarly history of the pharmaceutical industry, but rather a collection of chapters about a variety of drugs that have shaped medical history. This book is a nicely written (and fascinating) introduction to the history of drug discovery and medicine, as well as providing information on how the pharmaceutical industry evolved and functions. Each chapter deals with a specific group of drugs and are bound together by common themes such as drug evolution, growth of the pharmaceutical industry, changing public attitudes and changes in medical practices and laws. Chapters are devoted to the following topics: opium; smallpox and vaccinations; chloral hydrate (the first totally synthetic drug and original date rape drug); herion, opiates and addiction; the not so "magic bullet" antibiotics; antipsychotics; lifestyle drugs, viagra, and birthcontrol; opioids; statins; and monoclonal antibodies. The book concludes with a look at the future of drugs, with personalized and digitized medicine. Hager states that this book is aimed at people who know a little about drugs and want to learn more. In this regard, Hager has succeeded in writing a book that is (in my opinion) accessible, entertaining, informative and interesting, to the general public. I particularly appreciated the author's (mostly) objective and clear writing style.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    ***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway*** An interesting tour of the history of medicine, beginning with the ancient use of opium through new manufactured antibodies. As one might expect from the description, it is broken into chapters each covering a different medicine representing a new stage in our discoveries and use of medication. The structure made it easy for me to pick up and set down with relative ease while reading in short chunks. This book reveals some fascinating stories behind w ***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway*** An interesting tour of the history of medicine, beginning with the ancient use of opium through new manufactured antibodies. As one might expect from the description, it is broken into chapters each covering a different medicine representing a new stage in our discoveries and use of medication. The structure made it easy for me to pick up and set down with relative ease while reading in short chunks. This book reveals some fascinating stories behind where the medicines we take every day come from and how our current pharmaceutical cultures came to be.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A fascinating history of different drugs including many facts new to this reader. From Lady Mary Pierpont's discovery that women in the Ottoman Empire were using a form of self-administered inoculation against the scourge of smallpox, to details of the Opium War I found this book surprisingly engrossing. A nice balance between entertainment and education. I found the chapter on statins especially helpful for its depiction of the difficulty of measuring benefits vs. side-effects and the distinctio A fascinating history of different drugs including many facts new to this reader. From Lady Mary Pierpont's discovery that women in the Ottoman Empire were using a form of self-administered inoculation against the scourge of smallpox, to details of the Opium War I found this book surprisingly engrossing. A nice balance between entertainment and education. I found the chapter on statins especially helpful for its depiction of the difficulty of measuring benefits vs. side-effects and the distinction in statistics between "relative risk" and "absolute risk."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nick Ertz

    This is a book everyone can read - and should. It builds a coherent history of our world of drugs. It starts with the first drug, opium and follows the development of many drugs we use today. The author doesn't focus on the most popular drugs of today, but the ones that are representative of that class of medicine. This is an important contribution for those who enter in the debates on the merits of drugs and big pharma. The author also talks about vaccination and makes it clear its importance.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    I had reasonable expectations of "Ten Drugs," but they were blown away. Thomas Hager does a remarkable job providing historic back story and intriguing narrative to the ten drugs he discusses in his book. From the first vaccine, and the discovery of viagra, to birth control and its illegality under the comstalk law. This book is fascinating! Hager has a real talent for keeping things fascinating. This is my favorite book I've read so far in 2019. Couldn't get enough of it until the very end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maciej

    An interesting read which seems (to a layman) a balance overview of the 10 drugs (or rather types of drugs such as opiods) - how they were created, how they miraculously changed the world and how the side-effects - or attempts to 'improve it' as with (view spoiler)[vaccination in England (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[attempts to improve opium (hide spoiler)] - made miracle less miraculous.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Buddy Scalera

    Great writing. But great writing needs strong editing. This book would have been better with tighter focus. Chapters start off with wonderful storytelling and then seem to meander and lose focus. It's frustrating because the chapters roll on for so long that the topic seems to evolve and change. Good, but not great.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alison Curwen

    Th author doesn’t claim that his list is definitive, just interesting and impactful for American society. Interesting stories presented in a way that draws the reader in. It’s also devoid of too much scientific detail making the material easy to access. Perfect for a non scientist like me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gaby Chapman

    The history of the development of the drugs that have had the greatest impact on human health, yes, but also this book traces how the search for elixirs to minimize human suffering has evolved from the primary motivation of empathy to that of dollars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adarsh

    I liked this book. It was meant to be a fast read. I found the odds and ends of history to be fascinating. Also thought the discussion on statins was spot on... stuff I’ve been discussing with a couple of former coworkers for years.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Book Challenge Category: A Book That Is Published in 2019 I always enjoy a good medical history and a good micro-history-- so this was my jam. ALthough, I felt like many chapters focused on opiods, and the rest felt like add-ons. So, the focus of the books felt a bit off.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisianthus Lee

    The drug peddlers have long held sway our impotent lifes writing off our miserable pain and even our happy days. So, I am seeking for more truth and warranted facts than entertainment on the history of drug discovery.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Written for the lay reader, Hager gives just the right amount of information to increase one's knowledge on a very complex arena. Non-fiction that reads more like a novel, kudos to the author!

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