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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 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.

About the Author

Thomas Hager

Thomas Hager writes dramatic true stories about the effects of science on our lives. His national recognition includes the American Chemical Association's top writing prize, the Grady-Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, and a finalist nod for the National Academies Communication Award. After a long career as a medical journalist (including stints as a contributor to the Journal of the American Medical Association and American Health) , he turned to writing books: Most recently, "The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Discovery that Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler," critically acclaimed Borders "Original Voices" selection and one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of the year; and "The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug", called "fascinating" (Los Angeles Times) and "a grand story" (Wall St. Journal) .

Hager, a courtesy associate professor of communications and journalism at the University of Oregon, lives in the wooded hills near Eugene.

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