Polio: An American Story – David M. Oshinsky

Jul 15

Polio:  An American Story – David M. Oshinsky

This non-fiction book by David M. Oshinsky is the 7th pick for the World’s Smallest Book Club. The Club consists of me, the Husband, and my Mother-In-Law. This club started as a way for me to get to know my Mother-In-Law; it has blossomed into some lively discussions and a burgeoning friendship. This book is a comprehensive look at the horrors of Polio and the scientists who forged a battle against the disease. The portions of the book involving FDR and the inception of the March of Dimes were intriguing. As always, where I am concerned, the specific scientific aspects were a bit mind numbing, and luckily easily explained by The Spouse. I also found it extremely telling that I knew before reading anything exactly who Jonas Salk was….and I have never heard of Albert Sabin. Sabin was a competing scientist; Salk’s vaccine was a killed virus, and Sabin was a proponent of an attenuated version. Though Sabin’s vaccine was used in the global sense, I have only ever heard of Salk. This book captures a glimpse of the fear that gripped the US, especially parents of small children. We are lucky, thanks to a brilliant fund raising campaign and driven scientists, to live in a world that has basically been eradicated of Polio.

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