Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution, Holly Tucker

Blood Work

is the tale of the abortive history of animal-to-human transfusions, viewed as “a case study for larger political struggles, religious controversies, and cutthroat ambitions during the late seventeenth century” (KL 3414-3415).

Happily recommended. I mean, how many medical-scientific histories are murder mysteries involving postal spies, aristocratic poison scandals, urban planning, plague, pirates, prisons, monsters, and mummies? It’s an easy and enjoyable read that never loses sympathy with its subjects or sight of the important questions the story raises:
issues of species integrity, moral taboo, human and animal dignity, and what is “natural.” But most of all we are asked to come up with an answer for the thorniest question of all: What does it mean to be “human”? (KL 3452-3455)
(Yes, I was frequently reminded of this.)

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