BookBrowse Reviews The Remedy by Thomas Goetz

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The Remedy

Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

By Thomas Goetz

The Remedy
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2014,
    320 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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Medical and literary mystery meet in Goetz's fascinating history of tuberculosis.

The Remedy is not only a history of attempts to isolate the cause of tuberculosis and develop a cure for it, but also a dual biography of Dr. Robert Koch, the microbiologist who proved the bacterial origin of TB; and of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and a medical man in his own right. Goetz's book is more than the sum of its parts: it reveals the scientific inquisitiveness of an era, and portrays the modern shift from superstition to hard science. As Goetz succinctly remarks, Koch and Doyle "shared a trajectory from the nineteenth century of leeches and cod-liver oil to the twentieth century of microscopes and antibiotics."

Born in a mining village in central Germany, Koch trained as a doctor during the 1870s Franco-Prussian War. Alongside his community practice, Koch kept a lab where he researched anthrax, which killed sheep but also people: it was one of the ...

Additional Information
Gravestone The reviewer found an old gravestone in her local churchyard (St. James the Great in Ruscombe, Berkshire, England) with a poem about the subject's death from consumption:

"The pale Consumption gave the silent blow. / The stroke was fatal, but th'effect came slow: / With wasting pain Death found him sore oppress'd. / Pity'd his sighs and kindly gave him rest." [John Bolton, died June 13th, 1805, aged 35.]

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