Really Cool Women\'s Book Club

Pox by Deborah Hayden at Karen’s house at 6:30 on May 29th, 2014 April 30, 2014

Filed under: Books,Past Meetings — Susan @ 6:10 pm

5198cNcMQ9L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_More than 500 years after the great European-American encounter, scholars still debate whether syphilis was America’s thank-you to Europe, especially for Christopher Columbus. Hayden presents an exhaustively researched case for syphilis taking its maiden voyage to Europe “aboard” Columbus’ crew. Thus launched, pox, as it was called, so took Europe by storm that by the nineteenth century, according to some estimates, more than 15 percent of European men were infected. Of the wide variety of “cures,” many, including mercury, were arguably worse than the disease. Until penicillin in the late 1940s, none actually cured it. After a tour through syphilis’ grisly history, Hayden presents case studies of various nineteenth- and twentieth-century luminaries rumored to have been syphilitic. The well-documented accounts allow readers to draw their own conclusions about men as diverse as Beethoven, Flaubert, Lincoln, and Hitler. There aren’t many books about syphilis, and aside from those about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, few are more interesting. An if-you-read-one-book-about kind of book. –Donna Chavez