• The Poison Squad

  • One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
  • Auteur(s): Deborah Blum
  • Narrateur(s): Kirsten Potter
  • Durée: 11 h et 5 min
  • Version intégrale Livre audio
  • Date de publication: 2018-09-25
  • Langue: Anglais
  • Éditeur: Penguin Audio
  • 3 out of 5 stars (1 évaluation)

Prix: CDN$ 35,03

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Description

A New York Times notable book.

From Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times best-selling author Deborah Blum, the dramatic true story of how food was made safe in the United States and the heroes, led by the inimitable Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, who fought for change

By the end of 19th century, food was dangerous. Lethal, even. "Milk" might contain formaldehyde, most often used to embalm corpses. Decaying meat was preserved with both salicylic acid, a pharmaceutical chemical, and borax, a compound first identified as a cleaning product. This was not by accident; food manufacturers had rushed to embrace the rise of industrial chemistry and were knowingly selling harmful products. Unchecked by government regulation, basic safety, or even labelling requirements, they put profit before the health of their customers. By some estimates, in New York City alone, thousands of children were killed by "embalmed milk" every year. Citizens - activists, journalists, scientists, and women's groups - began agitating for change. But even as protective measures were enacted in Europe, American corporations blocked even modest regulations. Then, in 1883, Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemistry professor from Purdue University, was named chief chemist of the agriculture department, and the agency began methodically investigating food and drink fraud, even conducting shocking human tests on groups of young men who came to be known as, "The Poison Squad". 

Over the next 30 years, a titanic struggle took place, with the courageous and fascinating Dr. Wiley campaigning indefatigably for food safety and consumer protection. Together with a gallant cast, including the muckraking reporter Upton Sinclair, whose fiction revealed the horrific truth about the Chicago stockyards; Fannie Farmer, then the most famous cookbook author in the country; and Henry J. Heinz, one of the few food producers who actively advocated for pure food, Dr. Wiley changed history. When the landmark 1906 Food and Drug Act was finally passed, it was known across the land, as "Dr. Wiley's Law". 

Blum brings to life this timeless and hugely satisfying "David and Goliath" tale with righteous verve and style, driving home the moral imperative of confronting corporate greed and government corruption with a bracing clarity, which speaks resoundingly to the enormous social and political challenges we face today.

©2018 Deborah Blum (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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Moyenne des évaluations de clients

Au global

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Histoire

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  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • amy kaster
  • 2019-04-15

poison squad

so informative. this book makes me appreciate how far we've come and realize how far we've yet to go in the pesticide ,/herbicide industries.

1 personnes sur 1 ont trouvé cette évaluation pertinente

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chris Johnson
  • 2018-10-23

I learned so much!

I never knew what used to be in our food. Amazing! She does such a nice job telling the story.

1 personnes sur 1 ont trouvé cette évaluation pertinente

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • 2019-03-17

Interesting & important book but misleading title

I was hesitant to read this book because of the title, which suggests the book is about people ingesting poisons as part of an experiment or study. That sounded like it might be a book about sickness, death and the horrors that come with being poisoned. That might be a very long slog. But the so-called "poison squad" is only one small part of this story. And while sickness, death and the horrors of being poisoned do make an unavoidable appearance in the pages of this book, the reader is not accosted on every page with such material. A better title for this book might be "Harvey Wiley and the Battle for Food Safety in America." Much of the book is about legal battles and political maneuvering at the dawn of food safety regulations in America. Some might find such material dry or tedious, but I found it fairly interesting. It certainly made me appreciate the relatively pure and wholesome food we enjoy today. One thing I did not realize was how long arguments over the safety of saccharine and caffeine have been going on. After so much discussion about this, it would have been nice if the book had included information about how these additives are regulated today.

My biggest complaint is the first chapter of the book, which is simply a list of the many people who make an appearance in the book, along with brief descriptions of each. There are dozens (or scores?) of people in this list and it seems to go on and on. I finally skipped this section entirely. I think including it in the audio version of the book was a serious mistake. It should have been provided as a downloadable PDF, or just skipped entirely. The audio book seems fine without it, and is certainly not enhanced by such a long and tedious list.

I thought the reading was more than adequate. But I did notice that a couple of paragraphs that required thick foreign accents seemed like they might have been read by a different narrator.

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Alec Drumm
  • 2019-02-19

Hero of a forgotten episode in US science

The Poison Squad is about the career of Dr. Harvey Wiley, a chemist in the US Department of Agriculture who led the fight against food adulteration in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is incredible what was passed off as food and food additives in a period with no regulation. In the pursuit of a buck, manufacturers would sell "coffee" that contained no coffee and "soft drinks" sold to children that contained high levels of caffeine, morphine, and even heroin. They would add formaldehyde to spoiled milk and borax to spoiled meat that was then canned and sold to the US military.

In the present day the case for strong regulation seems clear but Dr. Wiley ran into a lot of opposition, even when the safety of common food preservatives such as formaldehyde and boric acid was scientifically questioned by his "poison squad" studies, which used a panel of human test subjects fed various doses of these ingredients. Such studies would not pass scientific ethics boards today. The Poison Squad describes the various tangles Wiley had with anti-regulation advocates at the DOA and with food manufacturers' lobbyists.

It's an interesting story, especially for scientists. The narration is not great however. The narrator speaks as if half the text is in quotation marks, especially chemical terms such as "formaldehyde". It sounds as if she is reading a legal text rather than a historical text.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dena
  • 2019-01-30

Amazing how history repeats itself!

Listening to the ways that our lawmakers were owned by corporations in the past, and seeing examples everyday in the news of exactly the same horsesh*t happening today makes me sick to my stomach. We really have not progressed as a society. I loved this book for it's eye-opening ability.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • sullivbt
  • 2019-01-22

great stuff<br />

good book, great reader. recommended for all interested in food safety in America. fast moving history

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas E. Ertz
  • 2018-12-27

What's in your food?

This is a good lesson on politics that is germane even today. Here is the birth of the FDA. Without two things, it wouldn't have happened. The chief chemist (Dr Wiley) was the great advocate supported by a vast majority of consumers - who were vocal. The villains were big food business in cahoots with the lawmakers and the bureaucracy. You can be glad today that you don't have formaldehyde in your milk and many other things. Lessons here need to be applied to the gun laws and environmental protection. Read and learn.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-12-18

Excellent blend of history & politics

This is a very well researched book. I found it captivating from start to finish.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jerry
  • 2018-11-27

If you eat you must read this book!

Deborah Blum has done an extraordinary job in gathering the history of food safety and presenting it in a clear and lively manner. If you worry about the safety of today’s food and long to return to early times, you will be shocked by just how unsafe our food used to be, and how much good FDA has done over the years.

1 personnes sur 2 ont trouvé cette évaluation pertinente

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Curtis F. Chapman
  • 2018-10-13

worth listening to, plan to buy a copy of <br />book

really glad I listened to this book, I would like to buy a copy in large print if it is available