Blood draw

The science writer Douglas Starr has made something of a specialty of blood.

His book, Blood: The Epic History of Medicine and Commerce, and the PBS documentary series it inspired, Red Gold, cover the waterfront on this vital component of life, and our relationship to it.

The PBS website has a great discussion guide that sums up the topic impressively, and includes a timeline of important developments in our evolving relationship with blood.

Red Gold

Even before we understood its function, humans invested blood with value and meaning. As Starr writes in an essay in the guide:

Blood: It’s strange that this most familiar of substances has always been so laden with feeling, so heavily freighted with mystery and symbolism. Consider the vocabulary: blood of our fathers; blood of Christ; the nation’s blood; lifeblood; blood brothers, blood sacrament, blood libel.…The history of blood involves not only medicine, but also culture and religion. It is a story of change — how a mysterious liquid became a global commodity and reflected the soul of each society that used it.

4 thoughts on “Blood draw

  1. Visiting from SITS Saturday Sharefest!

    Saw your blog “Birth Story” and thought for sure I was going to a mom about to give birth who had to have some blood drawn. Boy, was I confused when I read just this post. Hmmm… So I had to go read your bio and your post On the Cusp. Okay, now I see what you’re doing!

    Good luck with your book and with your new direction. I have so many friends in print media that are in the same position and having to find new careers themselves. It’s very sad ’cause they’re my friends, but also ’cause I’m a big print fan. Still get the paper delivered.

  2. Stopping by from SITS! This is very intriguing and I hope that the work-in-progress makes it to print. It really is an important topic. I had a tramatic birth story with my second daughter (born 3 months premature) and so I am still in awe of the technology that was available to save her life.

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