Thursday, October 13, 2022

Review of "The Deadly Dinner Party & Other Medical Detective Stories," by Jonathan A. Edlow, M. D.

 Review of

The Deadly Dinner Party & Other Medical Detective Stories, by Jonathan A. Edlow, M. D. ISBN 9780300171266

Five out of five stars

Great, true detective stories featuring medical investigation

 In this book, people get sick and at first even the best medical people are baffled by their symptoms. The stories are true and feature some rare and fascinating illnesses. In each case, the author presents the history of the medical topic that is relevant in that case. In many cases, the history goes back into the BCE era. While the people of that time did not have the knowledge of disease causation of modern times, the way they described what they saw demonstrates that they were first-rate observers.

 In most cases, the ultimate diagnosis is nothing close to what was first considered. The illnesses are so rare and the circumstances so unusual that it takes a great deal of thought and first rate detective work in order to finally reach an accurate conclusion. In one case, in a textile plant only smokers are getting ill. What was happening was that the workers were getting small amounts of the raw materials on their bodies and then on their cigarettes. The temperature of the cigarettes was high enough to vaporize the materials into extremely toxic fumes.

 Cross referencing data, persistence and sometimes pure chance encounters combine to create a series of very well-written detective stories where the goal is to the find the conditions and context culprits that are making people sick.

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