[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
October 8, 1982

The Enchanted Ring: The Untold Story of Penicillin

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1760-1761. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140068043

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


I picked up this short volume by John Sheehan with great anticipation, since I had been well aware of his contributions to our understanding of the penicillin molecule. I confess to mixed feelings after finishing it.

The book provided me with many new insights into the important role that the United States played in the development of penicillin. Too often we have been led to believe that Americans were only involved in the penicillin work by accident as a result of World War II. I was particularly gratified to read about penicillin work here at Columbia University in 1940 by Drs Meyer, Hobby, and Dawson. The book shows how workers believed they had the answer to the structure of the compound, only to have their structures shown to be in error. The role of Sir Alexander Fleming in the penicillin discovery is recounted with a balanced view that lies between