Jarrow, Gail

Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease

(2) YA Medical Fiascoes series. Jarrow (most recently The Poison Eaters, rev. 1/20) keeps keen focus on her topic--"the story of medicine during the Civil War"--throughout this valuable work of informational literature. After quickly establishing that the Civil War was fought over slavery, along with an intense depiction of the First Battle of Bull Run, Jarrow reveals the war's deadliest danger: disease. Through a balanced combination of strong narration and harrowing archival first-person accounts, Jarrow demonstrates how unsanitary living conditions coupled with a lack of microbial science knowledge allowed diseases such as dysentery, typhoid fever, pneumonia, smallpox, tuberculosis, and malaria to kill both Union and Confederate soldiers at twice the rate of battle injuries. Jarrow never shies away from the grim and grisly (exemplified by an in-depth account of the amputation process); however, numerous quotes and images of specific individuals throughout humanize the suffering. Substantial attention is spent highlighting the stories and contributions of women and people of color to the war effort--often in well-designed sidebars and double-page inserts. The enduring medical innovations developed during the war are effectively spot-lit at the book's conclusion. With her previous topics including the bubonic plague and typhoid fever, this first book in the Medical Fiascoes series confirms Jarrow's ability to craft meticulous, page-turning informational texts that thoughtfully examine the history of modern medicine. Back matter includes a timeline, glossary, resources, author's note, acknowledgments, source notes, general and personal accounts, bibliographies, index, and picture credits.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

This coverage is free for all visitors. Your support makes this possible.

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.