Aspirin is effective not only against everyday ailments, but is also useful as a preventative treatment for heart attacks, strokes, and even some types of cancers. Add to that its beneficiary role in a host of other conditions from Alzheimer's to gum disease, and you have a medicine of unparalleled importance to humankind. The story of aspirin is one rich in dramatic twists and surprising discoveries. Diarmuid Jeffreys follows this story from the drug's origins in ancient Egypt, through its industrial development at the end of the nineteenth century and its key role in the great flu pandemic of 1918 that killed more people than World War I, to its subsequent exploitation by the pharmaceutical conglomerates. With a cast of surprising characters - from an American adventurer to an Oxfordshire parson, a forgotten Jewish scientist and an Australian advertising genius - the author reveals how chance and design brought the drug into being at the end of the nineteenth century and how intrigue, greed and ambition combined to make it one of the most commercially successful products of all time.
Diarmuid Jeffreys is a writer, journalist and television producer who has made current affairs and documentary programmes for BBC TV, Channel 4 and others, including Newsnight and The Money Programme. He is also the author of The Bureau: Inside the Modern FBI. He lives with his wife and children near Lewes, East Sussex.