Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Mysterious, Miraculous World of Blood by Rose George - review by Wendy Moore

Wendy Moore

Liquid of Life

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Mysterious, Miraculous World of Blood


Portobello Books 372pp £14.99

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. Blood is a mammoth subject that affects every area of our lives and leaves its mark on all aspects of science, culture and art. Our television screens pulse with the red stuff in medical dramas and crime thrillers; blood soaks through our literature,

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RLF - March