A Fierce Radiance is a sweeping blend of fact and fiction, full of authentic details about the time period and the subject. I was impressed by how much information Lauren Belfer was able to pack into her novel, not just about penicillin, but also concerning New York during World War Two, the history of Life magazine, and the Rockefeller family's philanthropy. In spite of all this information, it's presented to the reader quite naturally, without feeling like exposition. Belfer achieves this effect by focusing on two lead characters: Claire, a photojournalist who is reporting on the development of penicillin, so that we learn all about this miracle drug along with her; and James, a researcher at New York's Rockerfeller Institute. Living in an era when people routinely died from a scrape on the knee, both Claire and James are intimately familiar with disease; ...
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