The Book is a Weapon (10)

December 7, 2009


This book-shaped object is a Tabloid-brand medicine box, manufactured by the British pharmaceuticals company Burroughs Wellcome & Co. During the early 20th century, the catch-phrase “Weapons of Precision” helped sell BWC’s medicine chests to British colonists; during WWI, when BWC produced quantities of tetanus antitoxins, anti-gas gangrene sera, and typhoid vaccines for the Western Front, this dubious analogy no doubt seemed less far-fetched.


Tenth in an occasional series.



What do you think?

  1. Dubious? Military metaphors were the guiding mode of Progressive era pharmacology. Paul Ehrlich’s “magic bullet” concept is from exactly this time. Remember that specific medicines, prescribed for diseases rather than symptoms, were barely half a century old, and the enemy–microscopic malefactors–had just been identified.

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