Book Review: The Remedy – Thomas Goetz

The Remedy cover

Title: The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
Author: Thomas Goetz
ISBN: 9781592407514
Pages: 320
Release Date: April 3, 2014
Publisher: Gotham Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The year is 1891, and tuberculosis (then called consumption) is ravaging the populations of Europe and the United States. Dr. Robert Koch, the founder of germ theory, announces that he has found a remedy—a cure—for the wasting disease usually considered a death sentence. But how did Koch come to this seemingly momentous discovery, and how did it inspire Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to leave behind his medical practice and instead become a full-time writer?

Snapshot Review:

A fascinating read, The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis is surprisingly readable, given its seemingly heavy subject matter. Goetz weaves a mesmerizing tale, bringing together different stories into one cohesive whole.

Full Review:

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis is a book that combines history, science, medicine, and one of the greatest literary figures in history, Sherlock Holmes. Goetz weaves together a compelling narrative, shifting among Koch, Louis Pasteur, and other great thinkers, doctors, and scientists of the time, telling a fascinating story about the development of germ theory. It’s the rivalry between Koch and Pasteur that led to incredible advances in science and medicine, and Goetz narrates it very well.

So how does Arthur Conan Doyle fit into this mix? When Koch announced his discovery of the tuberculosis cure, Doyle was a doctor who had already written a few stories and books. But it was the experience of traveling to Berlin and seeing the effects of this remedy firsthand that convinced Doyle that he was meant to be a writer rather than a doctor. Goetz weaves this story into the overarching narrative quite well; it’s fascinating to see how Doyle modeled Sherlock Holmes after these intrepid scientists, relying on detailed observations to solve mysteries.

Goetz keeps the tension high in The Remedy, making sure that the reader doesn’t want to put the book down for a second. It’s nonfiction, but surprisingly fast-paced and compulsively readable for what is essentially a history book. Readers will forget they are learning as they’re swept up into Koch’s triumphs and failures, witnessing how scientific discoveries can transform societies.

A book that reaches in many directions, The Remedy is a scintillating tale that should appeal to many different kinds of readers. Whether you’re a fan of science, history, nonfiction, or are simply looking for a fascinating read, Thomas Goetz will captivate you through his fascinating tale of scientists, germs, and what’s really beneath the microscope.

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  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    Just yesterday I became aware of this book and I’m fascinated. It’s already on my list. Wonderful review, Swapna!


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