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.
Book Club Kits
Madison Public Library is pleased to announce that it will again have book club kits for the UW-Madison Go Big Read title available to the public. Beginning Wednesday, August 28, 2019, over 100 copies of The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum will be available for checkout for individuals interested in hosting discussions. Kits will also include suggested discussion questions, interviews with Blum, and extensive additional material to facilitate conversation. Kits can be ordered by calling 266-6300 beginning August 28 and will be distributed on a first call, first served basis. See the Book Club Kits page for more information about other kits.
Go Big Read events will be hosted by the UW and Madison Public Library locations through November, so if copies are not readily available in September, readers can typically find more copies available later in the fall. The book is also available for checkout as a downloadable eBook and audiobook via Overdrive.
About the Author
Deborah Blum is director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and editor of Undarkmagazine, (undark.org). 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.
What is Food and and Who Decides: Insects as Food Panel Discussion
About the Book
- Article: “The 'Poison Squad' That Shook America's Faith in Preservatives.” The Atlantic, August 28, 2018.
- Article: “We Have Food Safety Laws Thanks to 19th Century ‘Poison Squad.’” Ars Technica, November 26, 2018.
- Book Review: “The Man Who Pioneered Food Safety.” The New York Times, October 16, 2018.
- Book Review: “Safety Last.” Bookforum, Sept/Oct/Nov 2018 Issue.
- Interview with the Author: “How A 19th Century Chemist Took On The Food Industry With A Grisly Experiment.” NPR, October 8, 2018.
- Podcast: “Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and the Poison Squad.” Gastropod, August 27, 2018
- Radio Show: “Borax: It’s What’s for Dinner.” Science Friday, October 5, 2018.
- Radio Show: “Food Regulation: ‘Only The Brave Dare Eat The Fare.” 1A, September 26, 2018.
- Article: “Harvey W. Wiley.” FDA Consumer magazine, The Centennial Edition, January-February 2006.
- Website: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Website: Foodsafety.gov.
- Bittman, Mark. A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News about Food, with Wisdom, Insights, and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More. 2015.
- Dawson, Paul L. and Sheldon, Brian W. Did You Just Eat That?: Two Scientists Explore Double-dipping, the Five-second Rule, and Other Food Myths in the Lab. 2018.
- Di Justo, Patrick. This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What's Inside Everyday Products. 2015.
- Evershed, Richard and Nicola Temple. Sorting the Beef From the Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics. 2016.
- Farrimond, Stuart. The Science of Cooking. 2017.
- Kurlansky, Mark. Milk!: A 10,000-year Food Fracas. 2018.
- Leonard, Christopher. The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business. 2014.
- Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. 2008.
- Simon, Bryant. The Hamlet Fire: A Tragic Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives. 2017.
- Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. 1906.
- Warner, Melanie. Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal. 2013.
- Food, Inc. (DVD) 2009.