STARRED REVIEW
October 23, 2018

Nine Pints

By Rose George
The sight of blood makes some people faint; for others it’s just creepy. Yet it is essential—each adult human contains approximately nine pints of it. In her new book, Nine Pints, Rose George discusses this life-giving substance in intricate detail.
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The sight of blood makes some people faint; for others, it’s just creepy. Yet it is essential—each adult human contains approximately nine pints of it. In her new book, Nine Pints, Rose George (The Big Necessity) discusses this life-giving substance in intricate detail.

George describes the busy, unrelenting job of this essential human body part that is “a tissue and an organ at once, and probably our most important organ.” She travels around the world, interviewing people whose lives have been impacted by blood in one way or another. She reports on a clinic in South Africa where residents can get tested and treated for HIV, a village in western Nepal where menstruating girls are shunned and must sleep in outdoor shacks, and a London trauma center that regularly treats code red (open chest) and code black (people with severe brain injury) patients.

Integrated in this narrative are a dizzying number of scientific facts and statistics, yet it is all very readable as George applies familiar comparisons. For example, when describing the job of helper T-cells (a type of white blood cell), she writes, “If the immune system were Star Wars, helper Ts would be the Force: they guide other white blood cells to attack invaders and threats.” Her use of statistics, such as the 12,000-mile journey traveled by each person’s red blood cells every day, helps give the reader perspective.

George tackles a squeamish subject in a manner that is eloquent and witty, making Nine Pints a factual, scientific book that reads like a novel with a colorful cast of characters ranging from medicinal leeches to groundbreaking scientists and innovative inventors.

This fascinating book will appeal to anyone interested in learning more about blood and its role as a wondrous, renewable human resource.

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Nine Pints

Nine Pints

By Rose George
Metropolitan
ISBN 9781627796378

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