Book review by Brett Clause
Subtitle: The Crusade That Mobilized the nation Against the 20th Century’s Most Feared Disease
Author: David M. Oshinsky
In the 20th century, there was something other than Elvis and rock and roll that parents feared most for their children. That was the terrifying disease of polio.
David M. Oshinsky’s book “Polio: An American Story” reads almost like fiction as it traces the history of the disease and the men and women working to fight it. Even without its Pulitzer Prize in History in 2006, this book is very impressive. It tells of the tremendous fear that came from learning that your child had polio and explains in great detail and depth about top researchers like John Enders and Albert Sabin and finally the development of a vaccination by famed doctor Jonas Salk.
This is a must read for any history major and surprisingly for mass communication majors because of its information on how the media helped to create a need for a cure. This book deserves two thumbs way up!
The photo at the left shows a poster from the March of Dimes campaign against polio. Depicted in the poster is the first “poster boy” Donald Anderson of Oregon. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who contracted polio as an adult and needed the use of a wheelchair during his time as president, was the founder of the National Foundation for Infantile Paraylis which organized the March of Dimes campaign. Americans sent dimes to the president in order to help fund research for a vaccine which was found and used in America, starting with mass vaccinations in the 1950s. Today, polio has almost been eliminated from the world. (Polio book, March of Dimes photo)