Cover for POIRIER: Chicago's War on Syphilis, 1937-40: The Times, the Trib, and the Clap Doctor

Chicago's War on Syphilis, 1937-40

The Times, the "Trib," and the Clap Doctor

"An eye for colorful vignettes and anecdotes. On target! She recognizes the importance of her subject." -- Thomas N. Bonner, author of To the Ends of the Earth: Women's Search for Education in Medicine

Those struggling to deal with the AIDS epidemic might learn valuable lessons from the earlier struggle of the U.S. to deal with syphilis. Here, Suzanne Poirier tells the story of the Chicago Syphilis Control Program launched in 1937 by the Chicago Board of Health and the U.S. Public Health Service and severely limited from the start because of the refusal of government, the press, and the public to confront directly the issues underlying the problem.

Poirier's narrative is memorable for its vivid scenes, colorful characters that include Chicago's "clap doctor," Dr. Ben Reitman, and its account of the heated debate that surrounded the effort. In an epilogue, the author discusses similarities between current efforts against AIDS and the handling and politics of the syphilis problem in the late 1930s.

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