Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Lethal People

by
June 2001, no. 231

The Poison Principle by Gail Bell

Picador, $21 pb, 276 pp

Lethal People

by
June 2001, no. 231

In the sixteenth century a Swiss physician and alchemist by the name of Paracelsus claimed that everything was potentially poisonous, as long as you took enough of it: ‘the right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.’ There is plenty of evidence to support this point of view. Legal claims for damages caused by asbestos and passive smoking are reminders that what may be a safe environment for some can be toxic for others. Indeed, one of the most common forms of contemporary poisoning is known as an ‘overdose’. The substance was fine. The amount was wrong.

But some substances are surely more lethal than others. And so are some people. Reading Gail Bell’s account of scores of poisonings found both in literature and medical history, you begin to wonder if it is simply circumstances that distinguish a poisoner from the healer.

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Poison Principle' by Gail Bell

The Poison Principle

by Gail Bell

Picador, $21 pb, 276 pp

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.