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February 11, 1974

Rise Up to Life: A Biography of Howard Walter Florey Who Gave Penicillin to the World

Author Affiliations

University of Missouri Medical Center Columbia

JAMA. 1974;227(6):667. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230190059033

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The isolation of penicillin is the major historical event that dominates this and any biography of Walter Florey. From his successes in the laboratory promptly came immense benefits to the sick; it is a pattern of research we would like to understand. In addition to describing this grand accomplishment, the book is an instructive and emotionally moving study of Florey, Ethel, his physician wife, Ernst Chain, the biochemist, and those few other people who, in the early months of 1940, first touched and studied purified penicillin.

The author is a professional journalist having long acquaintance with several sciences and evident skill in biography. The book is choice reading for a physician or scientist but serves even better to recruit a literary-type friend toward an interest in biomedicine.

Walter Florey is shown as a modern hero, opinionated, irritable, determined, "despising humbug," and too willing to criticize his professional elders. His uncommon