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Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentlemen Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail

Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentlemen Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail - Stephen R. Bown Ok, am adding scurvy to my studies of diseases and epidemics. Got interested in this one as we researched some science fair projects. *************I must return this to the library, alas.... so many books and so little time.This is a great book. Read over the shoulder of my daughter who was working on a science fair project for vitamin C, I discovered another "who done it" disease book! (see my review of "The Great Influenza" at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/81218957 and my review of "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793" at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/85538890 )Scurvy is a disease caused by nutritional deficiencies, unlike influenza which is caused by a virus, or yellow fever which is a virus transmitted via mosquitoes. Our bodies need vitamin C to keep our connective tissues healthy. Lack of vitamin C causes connective tissues to literally disintegrate. Healed bones "break" apart again. Old wounds open again. Teeth loosen and fall out. The disease is painful and results in a horrible death if untreated. Yet it is estimated that over 2 million sailors died of scurvy during the Age of Sail. Fascinating historical link? When the British were able to subdue scurvy among their sailors, they were able to defeat Napoleon when they blockaded the French navy successfully! The French navy had many ill and dying sailors while the British had healthier sailors with whom to fight.What is interesting in this book is the "found the treatment" then "lost and forgot the treatment" back to the "found the treatment" to "lost it again" pendulum swing. The arrogance of the royal medical establishment probably doomed many thousands of sailors to slow death from scurvy because they insisted on pursuing vapors and humours instead of treatments that resulted in benefit. As early as the 17th century, lemon juice was shown to prevent scurvy, but this solution was overlooked again and again.The surgeon mentioned in the book is James Lind. The Mariner is the great sea captain James Cook. The gentleman was physician Gilbert Blane. Each of these men over several decades independently worked to find the real cause and the real treatment for scurvy. That they succeeded is of course history... but how their searches twined together into resounding lasting proof is the stuff of the book.I liked how the book was written, and would recommend it highly! A last note... since scurvy is a deficiency of vitamin C, it is possible for it to re-appear anywhere malnutrition is at hand. And interestingly enough? A high diet of fast food can result in scurvy!!