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Books, Journals, New Media
December 13, 2000

Nutrition HistoryBeriberi, White Rice, and Vitamin B: A Disease, a Cause and a Cure

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


by Kenneth J. Carpenter, 282 pp, with illus, $40, ISBN 0-520-22053-6, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2000.

JAMA. 2000;284(22):2935-2936. doi:10.1001/jama.284.22.2935-JBK1213-3-1

Kenneth Carpenter has written another excellent book on the history of a nutritional disease. Like a previous book of his (The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C, Cambridge University Press, 1986), his new work provides a thorough review of the history of the disease and the sequence of observations and discoveries that led to the understanding of its cause and, ultimately, its control. He quotes an unknown source that correctly stated, "After so many years victory has come and the romance of high hopes and bitter disappointment will in a few years simply be recorded in textbooks . . . in a few terse sentences." Carpenter has made a successful attempt to correct that defect in the record by telling the full, complex story in eminently readable fashion. The decades-long trail, involving scientists in many countries, is rich in amusing and instructive anecdotes and is well told.

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