Poisoner's Handbook Deborah Blum Summary

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The Analysis of “The Poisoner’s Handbook”, by Deborah Blum

The Analysis of “The Poisoner’s Handbook”, by Deborah Blum
Austin Shufflebarger
Pickens Academy

“The Poisoner’s Handbook”, by Deborah Blum is a detailed biography about murder and the birth of Forensic Medicine in the Jazz Age of New York City, along with going over various poisons and toxins it also delivers interesting biographies as well as an in-depth look into the court cases and scientific discoveries that shaped the art of Forensic Science, as well as the justice system itself. The plethora of poisons and toxins that plagued New York, although diverse in nature, were equally deadly.
Key Idea 1 Chloroform, a potent anesthetic, is a simply concoction
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This is a dangerous, naturally occurring compound that has deadly effects on the human body, especially the respiratory system. Carbon monoxide is one of the deadliest poisons as it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and as such, it is very difficult to detect and becomes easy to become overexposed too. Upon excess inhalation a person will experience lightheadedness and vertigo, but can also damage the heart and nervous system until the person suffocates.
Key Idea 5 Arsenic is a dangerous poison used often in rat poison. Arsenic was used commonly in elixirs prior to the 1920’s. Although it comes in various colors and forms the most common and the most useful is the grey form of arsenic and it is also commonly paired with lead, as well as, used in pesticides. It is easily obtained and as a result was used as a common poison in early America. It was often cause severe diarrhea, cancers, and strokes.
The illustrious “Jazz Age” of the 1920’s, especially within New York, was a time of great progress for the justice system with the dawning of Forensic Science, but also a time of great despair thanks to the plethora of toxins and poisons that made their way to surface. “The Poisoner’s Handbook”, by Deborah Blum portrays the battle between good and evil, doctors and poisoners beautifully by disguising itself as a biography. There are many unique poisons, all equally potent, all dangerously

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