It is 1919 and Elizabeth Hughes, the eleven-year-old daughter of America's most-distinguished jurist and politician, Charles Evans Hughes, has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It is essentially a death sentence. The only accepted form of treatment – starvation – whittles her down to forty-five pounds skin and bones. Miles away, Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best manage to identify and purify insulin from animal pancreases – a miracle soon marred by scientific jealousy, intense business competition and fistfights. In a race against time and a ravaging disease, Elizabeth becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections – all while its discoverers and a little known pharmaceutical company struggle to make it available to the rest of the world.
Relive the heartwarming true story of the discovery of insulin as it's never been told before. Written with authentic detail and suspense, and featuring walk-ons by William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Eli Lilly himself, among many others.
It was one of the 20th century's medical miracles, and with this retelling of the discovery of insulin (10 months after Caroline Cox's The Fight to Survive: A Young Girl, Diabetes, and the Discovery of Insulin) it's a gripping narrative as well. In 1918, the youngest daughter of former New York governor and future Supreme Court chief justice Charles Evans Hughes was diagnosed with diabetes. At the time, a near-deadly starvation diet was the best hope for sufferers, but four years later, a "pancreatic extract" was showing promise in treating symptoms in animals. Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Hughes was among the first wave of patients to benefit from the marriage of dogged research and commercial enterprise on the part of Lilly & Co. to manufacture the drug. Author and playwright Cooper and finance-veteran-turned-author Ainsberg bolster the account with impressive sourcing. They also pay particular attention to the complexities of the human drama the indomitable Elizabeth; her visionary parents; the quarrelsome, "crazy," and eventual Nobel Prize winning researchers; and the bold commercial pioneers. And it's those details that make this extraordinary chapter of medical history so memorable. B&w photo insert.
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Great retelling of a momentous time
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. For those of us that interact with childhood diabetes frequently, the story is even more inspirational. Two thumbs up.
Great story with great history