Epic Measures is a non-fiction book written by Jeremy N. Smith that chronicles the life and work of Dr. William Thompson, a medical researcher who dedicated his life to fighting infectious diseases. The book explores the impact of Dr. Thompson’s work on public health and how his discoveries have shaped our understanding of disease prevention and control. Throughout the book, Smith weaves together the story of Dr. Thompson’s life with the history of epidemiology, the science of studying disease outbreaks and their causes.
Chapter 1: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
In this chapter, Smith introduces readers to Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist who wrote a book about his experiences working with patients with unusual neurological disorders. Smith uses Sacks’ book as a jumping off point to explore the concept of neurological disorders and how they can affect a person’s perception of reality.
Chapter 2: The Art of Dying
In this chapter, Smith delves into the history of epidemiology and how it has evolved over time. He discusses how early epidemiologists like John Snow and Louis Pasteur used data to track the spread of diseases and identify their causes. Smith also introduces readers to the concept of “case fatality rates” and how they are used to measure the severity of a disease outbreak.
Chapter 3: The Plague of the Century
In this chapter, Smith focuses on the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed millions of people worldwide. He discusses how the pandemic was caused by a virus that mutated from birds to humans and how it spread rapidly around the world. Smith also explores the challenges of controlling a disease outbreak during wartime and how the pandemic affected the course of World War I.
Chapter 4: The Luckiest Man in the World
In this chapter, Smith introduces readers to Dr. William Thompson, the main subject of the book. He discusses how Thompson’s father was a doctor who helped control a cholera outbreak in New York City in the 1850s. Smith also explores how Thompson’s upbringing influenced his decision to become a medical researcher and how he became interested in studying infectious diseases.
Chapter 5: The Case of the Missing Cows
In this chapter, Smith discusses Thompson’s work as a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. He explores how Thompson used statistical methods to study the spread of diseases and how he developed new techniques for isolating and growing bacteria. Smith also discusses how Thompson’s work helped to establish the field of epidemiology as a legitimate scientific discipline.
Overall, Epic Measures is a fascinating and well-researched book that provides readers with a deep understanding of the history of epidemiology and the work of one of its most important figures. Through his exploration of Dr. Thompson’s life and work, Smith shows how scientific research can have a profound impact on public health and how the study of infectious diseases has evolved over time. Whether you are interested in medicine, science, or history, Epic Measures is a must-read book that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the importance of scientific research in improving human health.