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Ten Drugs

How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine

Thomas Hager


List Price: 26.00*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (4/7/2020)
MP3 CD (6/11/2019)


Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of our culture and the practice of medicine. 

​Beginning with opium, the “joy plant,” which has been used for 10,000 years, Hager tells a captivating story of medicine. His subjects include the largely forgotten female pioneer who introduced smallpox inoculation to Britain, the infamous knockout drops, the first antibiotic, which saved countless lives, the first antipsychotic, which helped empty public mental hospitals, Viagra, statins, and the new frontier of monoclonal antibodies. This is a deep, wide-ranging, and wildly entertaining book.

Praise For Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine

“(An) absorbing new book”
— The New York Times Book Review

“(A) well-written and engaging chronicle”
— The Wall Street Journal

“An expert, mostly feel-good book about modern medicine.”
— Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“Lucidly informative and compulsively readable.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Entertaining [and] insightful.”
— Booklist

“Well-written, well-researched and fascinating to read Ten Drugs provides an insightful look at how drugs have shaped modern medical practices.  Towards the end of the book Hager writes that he ‘came away surprised by some of the things he had learned.’  I had the very same reaction."
— Penny Le Couteur

Abrams Press, 9781419734403, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

About the Author

Thomas Hager is an award-winning author of books on the history of science and medicine, including The Alchemy of Air and Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine. He is a courtesy associate professor of journalism and communication at the University of Oregon.