Sunday, November 20, 2011

What's Your Poison?

How many times have you heard that phrase over the years, when someone is asking you what kind of drink you'd like to have?

Well, apparently, back in the bootlegging days, drinking alcohol was akin to playing Russian Roulette.  I had no idea that so many people died as a result of what they sipped at a speak-easy!  Nasty, nasty stuff in more ways than one!

I had heard a glowing interview with the author, Deborah Blum, about her book while we were in Rochester, MN.  The local B&N didn't have it in stock, but ordered it for me. It was waiting for me when I got home.  I truly wish that I had it with me to read while waiting for appointments at the clinic, when I had more free time for reading, because it is hard to put down.

Murders by poison was the choice way to get rid of someone in the 1800's & early 1900's, until forensic scientists learned ways of tracing the various toxic elements and compounds, and were put in charge of determining how someone died. This book follows that journey, highlighting some of the more spectacular cases, while showing how widespread the use of poisons were.

Arsenic in your lipstick?  It was common for manufacturer's to use, what we now know as toxic substances in many of the cosmetics, medicines and even foods.  Remember that bottle of bluing that your Mother used on the laundry?  So innocent and trusting that all was safe to use. 

Heck, I can remember my parents putting over-the-counter available, paregoric on my gums when my teeth were growing in, to relieve the pain. .and this was in the 50's!  The "active" ingredient in paregoric, is opium. .which may explain a lot about me today. .but never mind. . .I do remember REALLY liking the taste of it!  No wonder!

I know that today, we are concerned with pesticides and other toxins contaminating our water and food sources, but in comparison to what the people had to deal with back in "the good old days", we are better off, in that we are much more knowledgeable, and know what we are fighting.  Those poor people had no idea.  Innocence isn't always bliss. It is a wonder that anyone survived that era.

This book is a true, factual book, that reads like a suspenseful mystery novel that transports you right back in time, causing you to ignore the clock, and obligations.  I highly recommend it!  And, I'd love to know your thoughts about what you learn!

Wishing you all a beautiful Thanksgiving!  May all of your food be poison free!!