Murphy, Jim and Alison Blank. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-ending Search for a Cure. Boston: Clarion Books, 2012. ISBN 9780618535743.
2. PLOT SUMMARY
Did you know that tuberculosis is one of the oldest known diseases? And that skulls of cavemen show signs of being infected by this infectious killer. Jim Murphy and Alison Blank walk through centuries of fascinating history about this tiny microbe, coupled with drawings from early sufferers evolving along with treatments and trials paired with pictures of the doctors and patients who began to pioneer scientific cures. They bring the reader through the dark ages and leech treatments through to the sanatoriums that spread across the nation like resort hotels. While this book is information packed and the tone is serious and scientific, it never feels like it drags or feels like a text book, which will help readers navigate the history of this disease and mankind inside.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
It seemed like the black and white images and newspaper like tone of Invincible Microbe were going to keep this book a slow plod of overwhelming information. However, Murphy and Blank keep the information light enough to read cover to cover, even when discussing such a heavy topic. The black and white drawings, prints, and photo reproductions help to give a face to not only the sufferers, but to those who applied the knowledge they had to stopping the spread and seeking a cure for this highly contagious disease. The writing maintains and easy flow and a positive attitude that life for the patients will get better, just around the next page. While the outline feels like an old-fashioned newspaper, the text itself keeps the reader from getting bogged down in the abundance of information. Organized by time frame, from the earliest known (and presumed) accounts toward modern research and medicine, this book marches forward at a steady pace. Pages of source materials and footnotes throughout the book show the amount of research that went to making this a well organized source of history and information on one of the world’s oldest documented diseases.
4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2013 NSTA OUTSTANDING SCIENCE TRADE BOOKS FOR STUDENTS K—12
KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST TEEN BOOKS OF 2012
BOOKLIST TOP 10 BOOKS FOR YOUTH 2012, SCIENCE & HEALTH
ALSC 2013 NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOKS, OLDER READER
From KIRKUS REVIEWS – "Lively text complemented by excellent well-placed reproductions of photographs, drawings, flyers, woodcuts, posters and ads . . . . Who knew the biography of a germ could be so fascinating?"
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “The writing is crisp and clinical . . . Students researching diseases or medical breakthroughs will find this book both informative and interesting.”
Gather other books about dark times and triumph in America to read such as:
• Sheinkin, Steve. BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD – AND STEAL – THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON. ISBN 1596434872.
• Scott, Elaine. BURIED ALIVE! HOW 33 MINERS SURVIVED 69 DAYS DEEP UNDER THE CHILEAN DESERT. ISBN 0547707789.
• Rusch, Elizabeth. THE MIGHTY MARS ROVERS: THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT AND OPPORTUNITY. ISBN 054747881X.
Gather other books by Jim Murphy:
• AN AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE TRUE AND TERRIFYING STORY OF THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1793. ISBN 0395776082.
• BLIZZARD!: THE STORM THAT CHANGED AMERICA. ISBN 0590673106.