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Poisons permeate our world. They are in the environment, the workplace, the home. They are in food, our favorite whiskey, medicine, and well water. They have been used to cure diseases as well as incapacitate and kill. They smooth wrinkles, block pain, stimulate and enhance athletic ability. In this entertaining and fact-filled book, science writer Peter Macinnis considers poisons in all their aspects. He recounts stories of the celebrated poisoners in history and literature, from Nero to Thomas Wainewright, and from the death of Socrates to Hamlet and Peter Pan.
From cyanide to strychnine, from Botox to ricin and Sarin gas—have you ever wondered about their sources? Where do they come from? How do you detect something that can kill you in a matter of seconds? Macinnis methodically analyzes the science of these killing agents and their uses in medicine, cosmetics, war, and terrorism. With wit and precision, he weighs these questions and many more: Was Lincoln’s volatility caused by mercury poisoning? Was Jack the Ripper an arsenic eater? Can wallpaper kill? For anyone who has ever wondered and been afraid to ask, here is a rich miscellany for your secret questions about toxins.