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April 10, 1954

Eleven Blue Men and Other Narratives of Medical Detection

JAMA. 1954;154(15):1317. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02940490081032

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This is a fascinating and revealing book about authentic medical detection that occurred in or near New York City in the past decade. The author, who received a Lasker Foundation Award for medical reporting in 1950 and is a member of the staff of the New Yorker, in which all the narratives were first published, writes in the lively style characteristic of this magazine, a work replete with authenticity and containing the ingredients of suspense, mystery, and drama. The heroes of these stories are not police officials but doctors—medical inspectors, epidemiologists, and research investigators, while for the most part the criminals are not human beings but microorganisms. The narratives deal with such diverse themes as the story of Donora, Pennsylvania's nightmarish experience with smog, which affected half the town's population of 6,000, killing 20 persons; the forestalling of a smallpox epidemic; the sprightly history of medical opinions on gout; rickettsialpox,

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