The Story of Blood
In Nine Pints, Rose George tells the story of the fluid that travels around our body and sustains our lives: blood. Her research takes her to Wales, and the only leech farm in Britain, to Nepal, where she speaks to a group of girls about the taboo of menstruation, to a Canadian plasma clinic and to a medical team in London who are revolutionising the treatment of trauma.
In conversation with Alex Clark, journalist, critic, broadcaster and Festival Artistic Director.
Rose writes about subjects that are hidden, taboo, ignored or misunderstood. Her first book looked at what it’s really like to be a refugee: how do you wash in the jungle with no soap? What are “refugee windows”? The Big Necessity explored the modern state of sanitation, starting from the startling fact that 2.5 billion people have no toilet, and passing through how sewers function (when people throw fat, wet-wipes and motorbike parts down them); why Japan has the most advanced toilets in the world; and why diarrhoea, an easily preventable condition, is the second biggest killer of children under 5, worldwide.
For Ninety Percent of Everything, Rose ran away to sea on a container ship, wanting to know who worked in the industry that carries nearly everything we consume, yet remains ignored and invisible. Under its UK title, Deep Sea and Foreign Going, the book won the 2013 Mountbatten Maritime Prize and was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.
Rose’s latest book heads inside the body to look at blood, a marvellous substance that can kill us or save us; that is feared and revered. She travels widely to understand how our blood supply works; why menstrual blood is still considered so taboo, girls are ostracized for having periods; how modern trauma care is maybe using the wrong kind of blood; why leeches are still found in hospital pharmacies; and why thousands of people are still seeking justice after they were given contaminated blood products. There are also some vampires.