Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Deborah Blum  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1954 in Urbana, Illinois


-- Website -- http://www.journalism.wisc.edu/users/dblum
-- Deborah Blum on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=deborah+blum


Illinois Connection

The author was born in Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ms. Blum now teaches journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
ISBN: 1594202435

Penguin Press. 2010

Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Deborah Blum follows New York City's first forensic scientists to discover a fascinating Jazz Age story of chemistry and detection, poison and murder.

Deborah Blum, writing with the high style and skill for suspense that is characteristic of the very best mystery fiction, shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. In The Poisoner's Handbook Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

Drama unfolds case by case as the heroes of The Poisoner's Handbook—chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler—investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey's Famous Blue Man, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler work with a creativity that rivals that of the most imaginative murderer, creating revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. Yet in the tricky game of toxins, even science can't always be trusted, as proven when one of Gettler's experiments erroneously sets free a suburban housewife later nicknamed "America's Lucretia Borgia" to continue her nefarious work.

From the vantage of Norris and Gettler's laboratory in the infamous Bellevue Hospital it becomes clear that killers aren't the only toxic threat to New Yorkers. Modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner. Automobiles choke the city streets with carbon monoxide

potent compounds, such as morphine, can be found on store shelves in products ranging from pesticides to cosmetics. Prohibition incites a chemist's war between bootleggers and government chemists while in Gotham's crowded speakeasies each round of cocktails becomes a game of Russian roulette. Norris and Gettler triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice during a remarkably deadly time. A beguiling concoction that is equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten New York.

Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death
ISBN: 0143038958

Penguin Books. 2007

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Poision Squad

and The Poisoner's Handbook

tells the amazing story of William James's quest for empirical evidence of the spirit world

What if a world -renowned philosopher and professor of psychiatry at Harvard suddenly announced he believed in ghosts? At the close of the nineteenth century, the illustrious William James led a determined scientific investigation into ?unexplainable? incidences of clairvoyance and ghostly visitations. James and a small group of eminent scientists staked their reputations, their careers, even their sanity on one of the most extraordinary quests ever undertaken: to empirically prove the existence of ghosts, spirits, and psychic phenomena. What they pursued? and what they found?raises questions as fascinating today as they were then.

Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
ISBN: 046502601X

Basic Books. 2011

In the early twentieth century, affection between parents and their children was discouraged—psychologists thought it would create needy kids, and doctors thought it would spread infectious disease. It took a revolution in psychology to overturn these beliefs and prove that touch ensures emotional and intellectual health.

In Love at Goon Park, Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum charts this profound cultural shift by tracing the story of Harry Harlow—the man who studied neglect and its life-altering consequences on primates in his lab. The biography of both a man and an idea, Love at Goon Park ultimately invites us to examine ourselves and the way we love.

Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women
ISBN: 0140263489

Penguin Books. 1998

Go beyond the headlines and the hype to get the newest findings in the burgeoning field of gender studies. Drawing on disciplines that include evolutionary science, anthropology, animal behavior, neuroscience, psychology, and endocrinology, Deborah Blum explores matters ranging from the link between immunology and sex to male/female gossip styles. The results are intriguing, startling, and often very amusing. For instance, did you know that. . .

Male testosterone levels drop in happy marriages

scientists speculate that women may use monogamy to control male behavior

Young female children who are in day-care are apt to be more secure than those kept at home

young male children less so

Anthropologists classify Western societies as "mildly polygamous"

The Los Angeles Times has called Sex on the Brain "superbly crafted science writing, graced by unusual compassion, wit, and intelligence, that forms an important addition to the literature of gender studies."

The Monkey Wars
ISBN: 019510109X

Oxford University Press. 1995

The controversy over the use of primates in research admits of no easy answers. We have all benefited from the medical discoveries of primate research--vaccines for polio, rubella, and hepatitis B are just a few. But we have also learned more in recent years about how intelligent apes and monkeys really are: they can speak to us with sign language, they can even play video games (and are as obsessed with the games as any human teenager). And activists have also uncovered widespread and unnecessarily callous treatment of animals by researchers (in 1982, a Silver Spring lab was charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty). It is a complex issue, made more difficult by the combative stance of both researchers and animal activists.
In The Monkey Wars, Deborah Blum gives a human face to this often caustic debate--and an all-but-human face to the subjects of the struggle, the chimpanzees and monkeys themselves. Blum criss-crosses America to show us first hand the issues and personalities involved. She offers a wide-ranging, informative look at animal rights activists, now numbering some twelve million, from the moderate Animal Welfare Institute to the highly radical Animal Liberation Front (a group destructive enough to be placed on the FBI's terrorist list). And she interviews a wide variety of researchers, many forced to conduct their work protected by barbed wire and alarm systems, men and women for whom death threats and hate mail are common. She takes us to Roger Fouts's research center in Ellensburg, Washington, where we meet five chimpanzees trained in human sign language, and we visit LEMSIP, a research facility in New York State that has no barbed wire, no alarms--and no protesters chanting outside--because its director, Jan Moor-Jankowski, listens to activists with respect and treats his animals humanely. And along the way, Blum offers us insights into the many side-issues involved: the intense battle to win over school kids fought by both sides, and the danger of transplanting animal organs into humans.
"As it stands now," Blum concludes, "the research community and its activist critics are like two different nations, nations locked in a long, bitter, seemingly intractable political standoff....But if you listen hard, there really are people on both sides willing to accept and work within the complex middle. When they can be freely heard, then we will have progressed to another place, beyond this time of hostilities." In The Monkey Wars, Deborah Blum gives these people their voice.

A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers
ISBN: 0195174992

Oxford University Press. 2005

This is the official text for the National Association of Science Writers. In the eight years since the publication of the first edition of A Field Guide for Science Writing, much about the world has changed. Some of the leading issues in today's political marketplace - embryonic stem cell research, global warming, health care reform, space exploration, genetic privacy, germ warfare - are informed by scientific ideas. Never has it been more crucial for the lay public to be scientifically literate. That's where science writers come in. And that's why it's time for an update to the Field Guide, already a staple of science writing graduate programs across the country.

The academic community has recently recognized how important it is for writers to become more sophisticated, knowledgeable, and skeptical about what they write. More than 50 institutions now offer training in science writing. In addition mid-career fellowships for science writers are growing, giving journalists the chance to return to major universities for specialized training. We applaud these developments, and hope to be part of them with this new edition of the Field Guide.

In A Field Guide for Science Writers, 2nd Edition, the editors have assembled contributions from a collections of experienced journalists who are every bit as stellar as the group that contributed to the first edition. In the end, what we have are essays written by the very best in the science writing profession. These wonderful writers have written not only about style, but about content, too. These leaders in the profession describe how they work their way through the information glut to find the gems worth writing about. We also have chapters that provide the tools every good science writer needs: how to use statistics, how to weigh the merits of conflicting studies in scientific literature, how to report about risk. And, ultimately, how to write.


Awards

Pulitzer Prize, ''Sacremento Bee Series on Primate Experiments''

LA Times Book Award, ''Science of Affection''

NY Times Notable Book of the Year, ''Sex on the Brain''

Library Journal, ''Monkey Wars''

Availability for Public Speaking

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

Journaliam Department, University of Wisconsin