Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Who? - The most remarkable people you've never heard of (Book review)

‘Who? — The most remarkable people you’ve never heard of’ by Donough O’Brien. Pp ix+217. Price £12.99. London: Bene Factum Publishing; 2013. ISBN 978 1 903071 99 1

Having already produced one book about places that became famous (or infamous) by a twist of fate and another listing “the slips and screw-ups” that brought the famous down to earth, Donough O’Brien is making a specialty of recording quirky facts. His latest book is an alphabetical list of around 200 people, mainly from Europe and North America, and the contributions each of them made in fields as diverse as military, political and social history, the arts, sciences, sport, entertainment, food and medicine.

Although many of the names are long forgotten or never properly acknowledged, the subtitle “The most remarkable people you’ve never heard of” is not entirely accurate. Many readers will recognise the likes of Sir Joseph Banks, Pierre de Coubertin, Sir Humphrey Davy or Jethro Tull, although perhaps not the details of their achievements.

O’Brien is a former army officer and there are plenty of military stories. These include the driver whose navigational error triggered the 1914–18 War, why French Foreign Legionnaires salute a wooden hand on 30 April each year and how using horse chestnut “conkers” to make the acetone needed to manufacture ammunition brought about the foundation of Israel. However, the reader will also find much of general interest. The man who created Chanel No 5 is included as are the designer of the White House in Washington, the inventor who made rock music possible and the man who pioneered the forward pass in American football.

Stories from the field of medicine make up slightly less than 10 per cent of the book. They include the Russian surgeon who invented triage, the man who pioneered the prophylactic use of heparin for deep vein thrombosis, how Banting and Best came to work together to isolate insulin, the importance of Florey and Chain to developing penicillin and the origins of the intraocular lens, botox in plastic surgery and HeLa cells.

The miscellany-of-facts genre of books has expanded greatly in recent years but “Who?” is well written in a light, often humorous style. It is well worth reading.

Roger Poole is a retired community pharmacist.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11132017

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 2

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 2

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 2 features more than 400 entirely new, closed book and calculation questions. It can be used in conjunction with the previous volume or on its own. All questions are in line with current GPhC guidance, enabling you to prepare for the pharmaceutical pre-registration exam with confidence.

    £35.00Buy now
  • Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 3

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 3

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 3 is the third volume in a series that follows on from the previous, highly popular Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions 2. It features more than 400 entirely new, closed book and calculation questions. It can be used in conjunction with the previous volume or on its own.

    £35.00Buy now
  • Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions

    Pharmacy Registration Assessment Questions features over 400 closed book and calculation questions. With the registration exam having gone through a complete transformation in 2016, this volume has been developed around the new General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidelines.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Stockley's Drug Interactions

    Stockley's Drug Interactions

    Now in its twelfth edition, Stockley’s Drug Interactions is still the most comprehensive and authoritative international source of drug interaction information.

    £240.00Buy now
  • English Delftware Drug Jars

    English Delftware Drug Jars

    This beautiful book illustrates the art and history of the collection of English delftware drug jars in the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

    £54.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Jobs you might like

Similar topics

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.