Review: The Remedy by Thomas Goetz

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (April 3, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 159240751X
  • Source: Publisher

In the late 19th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in Europe in the United States. Not only did doctors not know how to treat it, they didn’t even know how it originated. When Robert Koch, a young German doctor,  surmises that it is bacteria that causes the deadly disease, he launches upon a relentless mission to find a cure. As he announces to the world that a cure has been found, a doctor in by the name of Arthur Conan Doyle is sent to Berlin by a London newspaper to cover the presentation.  Although the two never meet,  Doyle employed many of the scientific methods as Koch,  not in the medical field but in his writing, eventually creating the character of Sherlock Holmes.

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis goes far behind the relationships between these two men. As a matter of fact, a large majority of this book focuses on Koch, and rightly so. He brought to light medical practices that would be instrumental in the evolution of the field of medicine.  Goetz takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of medical practice, beginning with what seems like archaic lack of hand-washing and reusing of medical tools from one patient to another to more modern, more “sanitary” medical practices.  While the connections between Koch and Doyle are minimal,  it was fascinating to learn the impetus of Doyle’s fascination with the concept of deduction (taken directly from the scientific method) that he carried on into his literary escapades.

Filled to the brim with historical fact and detail The Remedy is the dream book for any fan of medical history, like myself. I was fascinated with just how far that we, as a society, have come in the medical field.  I’m quite obsessed with facts like this; after reading just a few chapters I’d gone through two packages of Post-it flags, the desire to highlight everything I read was out of control.   I began sharing far too much information about our society’s medical history with friends and loved ones (sorry boys!). While nonfiction, The Remedy has characteristics of a thriller, the reader following Koch and others as they try to get to the root of this horrific disease.

For these reasons, I would recommend this title to a wide range of readers. It is  a riveting history of not only a terrifying and deadly disease, but one of our society, and the truths we are able to embrace.  Highly, highly recommended.

5 thoughts on “Review: The Remedy by Thomas Goetz



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