George’s journalistic eye is combined with sharp moral judgment. At a time when agencies such as Amnesty have decided that the best way to fight HIV/Aids is by liberalising the sex trade, she is bracingly clear that the sugar daddy economy of South Africa (older men called “blessers” who shower school-age girls called “blessees” with gifts in exchange for usually unprotected sex) is both a public health hazard and an ethical atrocity...George is angry on her own behalf, too. As someone with endometriosis (in which uterus lining tissue develops outside the womb, growing and shedding to the hormonal rhythm of the female body but with nowhere to escape), she is painfully aware of the price of ignorance about blood, especially women’s blood...What we know about blood is still so limited.“Blood is not done teaching us what it can do. More wonders will come,” George says. This absorbing, vital book by one of the best non-fiction writers working today is a wonder in its own right
Nine Pints by Rose George is a series of essays loosely connected to the subject of blood. She has previously written, the back cover tells us, about human waste and deep-sea shipping, among other subjects. Her research – which at times reads rather like a slightly breathless documentary voiceover – takes her all over the world... Rose George’s book is a work of detailed journalism, covering what are essentially disparate and sometimes very complex subjects.
It is 10 years since I last read a book that tackled taboos so fearlessly. It was also by Rose George, also excellent...This is a brave book, then. It is also powerfully feminist. Not just for how it tackles women’s issues and women’s history but for the coolly radical way it thinks, and its agitatory enthusiasm. As George herself puts it, describing campaigns against menstrual discrimination in India, “struggling against stupid taboos was also a fight against entrenched misogyny”. This fierce and forensic book wrestles our taboos to the ground and tears off the plaster; what it exposes is strangely beautiful.
In Cold War America, blood type was sometimes tattooed on to adults and even children. It was thought the information would come in handy after the bomb dropped. Faint traces of these tattoos can still be seen on some middle-aged Americans... Rose George’s absorbing book is full of such offbeat facts: it is a series of eye-opening excursions into the history and science of blood... She is particularly revealing on the history of voluntary donation — today, someone, somewhere in the world will receive a stranger’s blood every three seconds... Blood has not yet revealed all its secrets. As Rose George notes at the end of her fascinating book: ‘More wonders will come.’
It’s surprising that we’re ignorant about something as vital as blood. Before I read this book I couldn’t even have told you where in the body it was made — the bone marrow, I have since learnt. Good job, then, that we have Rose George, who boldly wades forth into tides of the red stuff to shed light on matters as diverse as leeches, vampires, blood types, platelets, blood donation, menstruation and haemophilia... As that story suggests, George doesn’t shy away from distressing subjects. I found the chapter on blood diseases such as haemophilia, Aids and hepatitis C especially tough to read. Important, though — and it helps that George writes immensely readable prose. The book (whose title refers to the average amount of blood the typical body contains) also benefits from the way she tackles a few topics in depth rather than darting around in search of sparkly nuggets. Don’t be misled by the slightly whimsical subtitle (A Journey Through the Mysterious, Miraculous World of Blood), this is serious, weighty nonfiction. And a good thing too.
Rose George is also interested in the body’s physiological functions, and as a journalist, not a doctor, she has an even keener eye for their social and political qualities. She has written previously about the global waste and transit industries. In Nine Pints, she revisits these themes on the smaller square-footage of the human frame. Blood is a commodity. It’s the 13th most traded product in the world, and moe than 1,000 times more expensive than crude oil.
For Rose George, no subject is off limits. An award-winning British journalist and author, she has lifted the lid on toilets and human waste in her acclaimed book The Big Necessity, written on life as a refugee, and explored the hidden world of shipping.
Now George focuses her investigative spotlight on the subject of blood, not only looking at the history of blood transfusion and the science of blood products, but also confronting commonly unmentionable topics, such as menstruation, sanitary products and the menopause. Visiting women in Nepal who are ritually expected to sleep outside in unheated and unlit sheds for five days every month during their periods, she grapples with the literal concept of taboo: the term, she explains, probably derives from the Polynesian word tapua, for menstruation, or tabu, meaning apart.
It is an ambitious project...Fearlessly exposing the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of this most vital fluid, Nine Pints provides a total immersion in the world of blood. If nothing else, it has inspired me anew to give my regular pint.