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Nine Pints

A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

Rose George


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ISBN10: 1250230683
ISBN13: 9781250230683

Trade Paperback

368 Pages



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Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don’t even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.

Rose George, author of The Big Necessity, is renowned for her intrepid work on topics that are invisible but vitally important. In Nine Pints, she takes us from ancient practices of bloodletting to the breakthough of the "liquid biopsy," which promises to diagnose cancer and other diseases with a simple blood test. She introduces Janet Vaughan, who set up the world’s first system of mass blood donation during the Blitz, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as “Menstrual Man” for his work on sanitary pads for developing countries. She probes the lucrative business of plasma transfusions, in which the U.S. is known as the “OPEC of plasma.” And she looks to the future, as researchers seek to bring synthetic blood to a hospital near you.

Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals our life's blood in an entirely new light.


Praise for Nine Pints

“A very good book . . . George brings to everything she writes a no-nonsense briskness on the page; a forensic zeal; a potent moral sensibility. She’s a nimble writer, one who walks in fear of euphemism or pretension. There are no peacock displays of pointless erudition in her work; no recondite allusions are dragged in.”The New York Times

“A wonder . . . An absorbing, vital book by one of the best non-fiction writers working today.”—The Guardian

“I’ve been mainlining Rose George for years now, so you can imagine my joy in hearing that she’d taken on blood and its many surprising cohorts (leech growth technicians! Breast milk transfusions! Blood-swilling epileptics!). George charges down wholly unexpected avenues of medical history and global injustice, leaving the reader by turns giddy and appalled. And always, always in awe of the writing. Rarely does one encounter such beautifully crafted prose in the service of nonfiction. Bloody hell, this is a good book.”—Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

“An intensive, humanistic examination of blood in all its dazzling forms and functions . . . Both fascinating and informative . . . George packs her book with the kinds of provocative, witty, and rigorously reported facts and stories sure to make readers view the integral fluid coursing through our veins in a whole new way.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



There is a TV but I watch my blood. It travels from a needle stuck in the crook of my right elbow, the arm with better veins, into a tube, down into the clear bag that is being hugged by a cradle that rocks then...

About the author

Rose George

Rose George is the author of Nine Pints, The Big Necessity and Ninety Percent of Everything. A freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and many other publications. She lives in Yorkshire.

Karen Robinson

Rose George

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