Cover: Adrenaline, from Harvard University PressCover: Adrenaline in HARDCOVER


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$41.00 • £35.95 • €37.95

ISBN 9780674050884

Publication Date: 04/15/2013


304 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

5 halftones, 2 line illustrations


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Hoffman brings to life many of the characters that feature in the discovery of adrenaline and the development of related drugs from pioneering scientists to the numerous individuals who would have slipped into anonymity had it not been for an eye-opening medical conundrum.—Nicola K.S. Davis, The Times Literary Supplement

As Hoffman beautifully demonstrates, adrenaline is part of a whole host of fundamental physiological processes besides fight or flight. It influences our emotions and is part of the cycle of sugar metabolism and our daily circadian rhythms.—William Bynum, The Wall Street Journal

The first hormone ever discovered, adrenaline is associated with terror, stress and excitement and is behind animals’ fight-or-flight response. Hoffman, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, explores the cultural significance of adrenaline and its history. The stories include those of a murderous nurse who used the untraceable hormone to induce fatal heart attacks in her patients, industrial chemists’ race to purify adrenaline for drug use and the myth of the chemical’s power to raise the dead.—Marissa Fessenden, Scientific American

[An] illuminating study of science history.—Hannah Holmes, The Wilson Quarterly

Hoffman’s book offers a straight history of adrenaline’s discovery, purification and the research that has been carried out into how it works.—Gavin Francis, London Review of Books

Hoffman has written a study of adrenaline for nonscientists… It will be of definite interest to students of biology, chemistry, and the health sciences, or anyone interested in the history of medicine and medical research.—Rachel Owens, Library Journal (starred review)

[Hoffman’s] ‘biography of adrenaline’ is medical history at its best, revealing the blend of genius, guts, and luck that transformed a hunch into a breakthrough—from 19th-century physician Thomas Addison’s insights into the function of the adrenal glands to the beginnings of endocrinology (and the surprising use of hundreds of sheep thyroids to cure a human patient), the heartbreaking Nobel Prize snub of a canny Japanese scientist and biotechnology pioneer, and the myriad other drugs developed after the discovery of adrenaline. Hoffman notes that there’s still much to know about the relationship between the body and brain when it comes to triggering emotions, but in the meantime, this thoughtful and exuberant exploration will satisfy both professional and lay readers.Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The most complete and detailed book ever written on Adrenaline. Hoffman presents a fascinating account of the history—from the earliest days of its discovery to its most recent clinical and therapeutic developments.—Edmond H. Fischer, Winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Adrenaline has long captured the attention of all flavors of physicians, biologists, and storytellers. Now, happily, Brian Hoffman has captured the complete ‘biography of adrenaline’ in substantial detail. The story and science are delivered with just enough—but not too much—technical detail, and numerous vignettes make it a very human read.—Alfred Gilman, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Hoffman has done a beautiful job of integrating the story of scientific discovery with commercial application, demonstrating the ways in which this is truly a circular process with both discovery and application happening in both industry and academia, rather than the way it is often viewed as a simple matter of companies ‘scaling up’ discoveries in university laboratories.—Carla C. Keirns, M.D., Ph.D., Stony Brook University, author of Measured Breath: A Short History of Asthma

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