Saturday, February 24, 2007

Polio: An American Story

Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky was a Pulitzer Prize winner in History for 2006. This book lives up to it's recommendations. It really is an engrossing historical account of the crusade to find a vaccination for poliomyelitis. Oshinsky details how FDR helped raise awareness of polio, the creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, and the March of Dimes. All the scientific professional rivalries, missteps, and breakthroughs are carefully placed in a historical context and covered equitably. The main rivalry in the history of the polio vaccination was between Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk. They represent the two camps of virologists: those who believed in an attenuated live-virus vaccine (Sabin) versus those who believed in a killed-virus vaccine (Salk).

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