By Megan Harlan
October 16, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce

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Science journalist Douglas Starr’s lively history of human blood as a valuable resource — he provocatively compares it to oil — courses with greed, altruism, and woozily vivid descriptions. Following chapters on the ancient practice of curative bloodletting and vital medical breakthroughs in transfusion technology, Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce discusses the exploitative blood-bank industry of the 1970s. Its ”plasma mills” purchased blood from desperate, often drug-addicted people in inner cities and impoverished countries like Nicaragua. When AIDS cropped up in these groups in the early 1980s, contaminated transfusions infected thousands. Starr concludes by showing how various tainted-blood scandals have resulted in today’s sophisticated donor screening — in case you’re feeling a bit faint. A

Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce

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