Monday, June 6, 2011

Doctor Danger: The Secret of the Yellow Death

The yellow death was a virulent disease that killed thousands of people, young and old.  Until the twentieth century, no one knew what caused it.  In The Secret of the Yellow Death, a Cybils Middle Grade and Young Adult Nonfiction Finalist, Suzanne Jurmain tells the story of the doctors hired by the American army to study and prevent the disease.  Along the way they also pioneered the ethics of human experimentation, moving from using themselves as test subjects (one died during their investigation) through informally inviting men to get bit by a mosquito, through formally listing the dangers and the rewards of participating in tests.

Jurmain clearly points out the risks and the scientific questions involved, building suspense as the doctors perform experiments and also fall sick to the disease they are studying.  She does a good job of showing the scientific process, as well as discussing the risks involved.  I was fascinated, and I hope to entice the boys into reading it as well.  A

(The Amazon link should benefit the Cybils committee.)

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