Sunday, February 11, 2018

Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases

I've read two of Paul Offit's other books and mostly enjoyed his mix of righteous indignation and scientific explanation.  Vaccinated could have used a better editor.  Part history of vaccine production, part "as told to" memoir of Dr. Maurice Hilleman who developed or co-developed nine vaccines, and with a few chapters of public health warning tacked on, Offit's book never fully comes together.  I think the problem is that he's telling two stories linearly, one the life of an important but paradoxically ordinary man, the other of the diseases Hilleman's work prevents.  It's a bit jarring to move from the small, generally ordinary, glimpses into the life of a man who appeared to be fairly ordinary if driven to the history of a now-vanquished communicable disease and its horrifying consequences, to the discovery and development of a vaccine, and back to Hilleman's personal life.  Definitely worth reading, Vaccinated requires the reader to mentally shift gears each chapter and would have been a better book either without the Hilleman biography or with that thread in its own section.

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