This is less a cohesive book about blood and more an anthology of long-form docu-essays loosely connected by a theme, but it was generally interesting. It takes a more historic and socio-political approach to its subject matter than a scientific one. It’s pretty straightforward, with chapters that dig a few feet past the superficial level on topics like the history of transfusion and blood donation, the business model for blood banks, how leeches factor into our medical knowledge, the history and cultural factors involved with battling HIV in Africa, the ways old views about menstruating women serve to oppress women in developing nations (and what people and movements are slowly changing that in places like India.) The audio version is very quietly recorded — even at full volume, I often wanted to be able to turn it up.
In summary… I liked it fine. I’d read one of these chapters as the NYT magazine Sunday feature, but I probably wouldn’t post it on fb and encourage everyone I know to read it. The chapters about menstruation were the strongest, and the guy she profiles in India who built a machine that can be easily and cheaply shipped in pieces anywhere in the world, then assembled to annually and cost-effectively make tens of thousands of pantiliners of varying shapes, sizes, and thicknesses is a fascinating figure I definitely never would have heard of anywhere else, so I do recommend this book just for that. Beyond that, I have to just go ahead and readily admit that this last sentence right here is a shameless, unabashed attempt to be pedantic enough to stuff a few more words into this paragraph so that this review counts as part of my cannonball book count.