The Book of Blood by H.P. Newquist

September 12th, 2013 by Brian Leave a reply »

For the record, I am glad that I am not a doctor. When you are in the operating room, you do not want your medical professional squealing in fright at the insides of the human body. The Book of Blood is not a gross-out book, at least not intentionally.

But it’s blood! They’re talking about blood! [this is where I faint]

Until the past century, large gaps of time passed between breakthroughs in the study of blood. Part of that is because humans need blood and are usually pretty opinionated about parting with it. The Book of Blood traces the history of the study of blood, from Herophilus and Ibn al-Nafis to Karl Landsteiner and the oligosaccharide polymer. I had heard of Herophilus before but not the other two and that’s what I appreciate about the book. It branches into parts of scientific history that I was not familiar with. I also knew that there were different types of blood, but I didn’t realize what the differences between A and B and positive and negative were (it’s about the presence or absence of certain polymers).

The science is there. The history is there. It makes for a great nonfiction read.

Even a simple sentence like:

“In times when the body is sick or injured and is losing blood, the spleen can squeeze some of its stored-up reserves back into the body so that the proper amount is still flowing through the arteries and veins.”

grips the reader’s attention.

Squeeze? [this is where I scream and faint again]


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