In Nine Pints Rose George does for blood what she did for human waste in The Big Necessity. Nine Pints covers issues ranging from the birth of the British blood donor service to the history and current state of medicinal leech usage to the politics of menstruation.
She weaves a story around each topic, offering a very readable combination of fact, anecdote, and analysis.
Despite that, I must admit my interest did flag in one or two places. I think when I read The Big Necessity it introduced me to a number of topics which I had never considered before, and which I think weren’t widely discussed. With Nine Pints, much of the material was familiar to me and has featured in mainstream media.
Indian social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, aka Pad Man, has received extensive publicity for his efforts to make good sanitary protection available to women (there has even been a movie made about him) and the terrible treatment of haemophiliacs given contaminated blood has been covered in the light of the public inquiry in the UK.
Other things were new though, such as the role of scientist Janet Vaughan, whose work helped make blood transfusion standard practice and was instrumental in the organisation of blood banks during World War 2, and the long and complex life cycle of the leech! More literal chapter headings might have been useful, so that readers could focus on the topics that interest them.
Overall, it’s an interesting read and offers a fresh perspective on something that is so familiar we often don’t give it much thought.
I received a copy of Nine Pints from the publisher via Netgalley.
View Nine Pints on Goodreads
Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of Human Errors by Nathan H Lents