Author: Jennet Conant

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Science History Review: The Great Secret

October 11, 2021 Uncategorized 3 ★★★½

Science History Review: The Great SecretTitle: The Great Secret: The Classified World War II Disaster that Launched the War on Cancer
Author: Jennet Conant
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) Rating:three-half-stars

Summary: This was an interesting, well written story that quoted lots of primary sources, but it suffered from repetitive and unclear sections.

I picked this up for my book club and I had low expectations. Based on the subtitle, I was concerned this would be a conspiracy-theory focused book. Instead, it was a fascinating story of doctor and researcher, Stewart Alexander,  who realized that mustard gas could be useful for chemotherapy. I thought it was pretty incredible that as early as the 1940s, scientists realized that one of the greatest challenges with cancer is distinguishing cancer cells from normal ones. The specific impact of mustard gas on only white blood cells therefore made it a good candidate for targeting cancers that impact these cells. The military disaster that allowed Alexander to study the impact of mustard gas on humans and the subsequence cover up made for a more action beginning to this story. Read more »

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