Polio: An American Story

Written by:
David M. Oshinsky
Narrated by:
Jonathan Hogan

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2008
14 hours 38 minutes
New York Times Notable Book author and acclaimed University of Texas professor David M. Oshinsky is a leading American political and cultural historian. Garnering the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in History, this comprehensive and gripping narrative covers all the challenges, characters, and controversies in America’s relentless struggle against polio.

As poliomyelitis stalked the land, its paralyzing grip terrified millions. But for each victim of polio’s paralysis, 99 others unknowingly contracted and spread this insidious virus. A summertime predator, crippling poliovirus usually targeted children—especially boys. When Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, however, the arduous search for a cure—funded by private philanthropy and grassroots contributions—received an all-important boost. Eventually, research leading to Jonas Salk’s killed-virus vaccine (1954) and Albert Sabin’s live-virus vaccine (1961) offered hope for eradicating this dreaded disease.

“Narrative history doesn’t get much better.”—Booklist, starred review
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Dan T.

In late summer of 1949, my mother became one of the many afflicted with this terrible and debilitating virus. Born in 1964, and the 5th child of a polio survivor(paraplegic), I grew up in a world where the once feared virus was nearly all but conquered. My mother never let her wheelchair get in the way of doing things she wanted to do and surely never used her paralysis as an excuse. She lived a full life and the conversation of polio never really came up in our house. She learned to adapt and spent time at Warm Springs in 1951(after enduring months in the Iron Lung and a long recovery period). What amazed me most about this book how the nation came together and ultimately won out. it is an incredible story that kept me interested from beginning to end. when I chose it from the offerings, I thought 14 hours long?? Holy cow!! But I must say, it was well worth the time. The narrator was fantastic. Overall, I highly recommend it. Even after living with a survivor, I knew little about the disease and the fight for the cure. This book covered the process, the players and the plight. 10 out of 10!!!!!

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Abel M.

Excellent! I can listen to this over and over again.

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Lauren C.

Great read. As a Public Health Nurse, it was interesting to hear the story of polio and how the vaccine came to fruition. Interesting parallels can be made between then and now, with the covid pandemic.

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Jessica G.

As a healthcare worker trained in the 1980's this was a great story to learn about. People have no idea what goes into developing medicines, let alone a vaccination that would save a generations to come. They say one needs to learn history so those mistakes are not repeated, and after reading this book one can see that not everyone learned their lessons the first time.

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An excellent book that recounts the early days of research for a vaccine against poliomyelitis, including the politics of research, the egos, and self-aggrandizing personalities of those who rallied to end this debilitating disease.

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Paula S.

This was an excellent and informative book. I was deeply fascinated by the different characters who were involved in the polio story and vaccine development. Well written and narrated

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Interesting read about research and trials of polio vaccine. This helped me understand better how complex the testing phase is and the responsibility it puts on the research team.. And of course, it never goes without an intrigue, professional jealousy and personality clashes.

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Very interesting. Narration was excellent.

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Peter B.

Interesting story, especially so today. The worst reader of the many books I’ve listened to. I suggest you read it in print.

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