Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow

Have you ever stopped to wonder why our cereals are all fortified with niacin and other vitamins and minerals?  The answer is rooted in a mysterious disease called pellagra.  Its symptoms included: thick, painful, scaly red skin on the hands, feet, face, and chest; foul-smelling, chronic diarrhea; progressive insanity; and, finally, death.  As it ravaged the countryside, and occasionally the parlors of the rich, in the early 1900s, doctors struggled to determine its cause and to find an effective treatment.  Is it infectious?  A parasite?  A deficiency?  In Red Madness, author Gail Jarrow has woven together a vast collection of primary documents (including photographs, newspaper articles, journals, advertisements, and maps) to tell the harrowing tale of the race to cure pellagra.  Backmatter includes frequently asked questions, a glossary, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index, and sources for further information.  --Regan Schwartz

Educator's guide available from the publisher here.

Jarrow, Gail. Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2014. Print

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