Halloween Bingo: Truly Terrifying

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis - Thomas Goetz

Having had a bit of a fun fiction binge while recovering from a bad cold over the last few days, my next choice for the Halloween Bingo will be a non-fiction book:


The Remedy is the story of the search for a cure for tuberculosis, but it's not just a book about medical history - because it also hinges on an event in Arthur Conan Doyle's life when he, having heard of the new "cure" discovered by Robert Koch, set out to investigate the claims that Koch's discovery really was a cure. 


I had originally read about this in Daniel Stashower's biography of ACD and it was one aspect of ACD's life that I had not heard about before. I knew that his wife suffered from and eventually died of TB, and that his attempts to care for her took them to the place in Switzerland that inspired the final meeting between Holmes and Moriarty, but I did not know that ACD actually tried to seek out Koch - probably the most eminent physician of his time - and quiz him about his "cure". 


The Remedy claims that there is also a link between this quest and Holmes. I am very skeptical about that. For various reasons, this does not strike me as likely, especially since ACD himself traces the origins of Holmes to his old professor, Joseph Bell...

But, in the spirit of Halloween Bingo, I am willing to keep an open mind. ;) 


Here's Ammy's summary of the book:


The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world’s most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.
In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB—often called consumption—was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB. Koch soon embarked on a remedy—a remedy that would be his undoing.
When Koch announced his cure for consumption, Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town doctor in England and sometime writer, went to Berlin to cover the event. Touring the ward of reportedly cured patients, he was horrified. Koch’s “remedy” was either sloppy science or outright fraud.
But to a world desperate for relief, Koch’s remedy wasn’t so easily dismissed. As Europe’s consumptives descended upon Berlin, Koch urgently tried to prove his case. Conan Doyle, meanwhile, returned to England determined to abandon medicine in favor of writing. In particular, he turned to a character inspired by the very scientific methods that Koch had formulated: Sherlock Holmes.
Capturing the moment when mystery and magic began to yield to science, The Remedy chronicles the stunning story of how the germ theory of disease became a true fact, how two men of ambition were emboldened to reach for something more, and how scientific discoveries evolve into social truths.