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Go Big Read

The Poison Squad

Each year Madison Public Library partners with UW-Madison to extend the perennially popular Go Big Read program into the broader community with book discussion groups and programs at our libraries.

The 2018-2019 Go Big Read selection is The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Quest for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Deborah Blum, the dramatic true story of the fight for food safety in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, led by the inimitable Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley. Detailing the complex interchanges of industry, media, and government regulation with a bracing clarity, The Poison Squad offers a prescient perspective on the enormous social and political challenges we face today. Read more about the selection on the UW-Madison website

Madison Public Library will be hosting discussions of the book throughout the fall of 2019. Dates, times, and locations will be announced soon. Copies of the book will also be available in the library’s book club kit collection in early fall. Sign up for the New Book Club Kit Insider e-newsletter to be notified when the copies are available.

About the Author

Deborah Blum is director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and editor of Undark magazine, ( In 1992, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a series on primate research, which she turned into a book, The Monkey Wars. Her other books include The Poisoner's Handbook, Ghost Hunters, Love at Goon Park, and Sex on the Brain. She has written for publications including The New York Times, Wired, Time, Discover, Mother Jones, The Guardian and The Boston Globe. Blum is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences.

Book Discussions

  • Hawthorne Library
    Wednesday, Sep 18, 6:00pm
  • Central Library
    Wednesday, Sep 18, 7:00pm
  • Sequoya Library
    Thursday, Sep 26, 7:00pm
  • Lakeview Library
    Thursday, Oct 3, 6:30pm
  • Lakeview Library
    Thursday, Oct 10, 12:00pm
  • Monroe Street Library
    Wednesday, Oct 30, 6:30pm
  • Alicia Ashman Library
    Thursday, Nov 7, 2:00pm
  • Goodman South Madison Library
    Saturday, Nov 16, 1:30pm
  • Meadowridge Library
    Thursday Nov 21, 5:30pm

Special Events

Keynote Event

Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Memorial Union Theater – Shannon Hall
No tickets required


This program was made possible in part by generous support from: