Cover image for Nine pints : a journey through the money, medicine, and mysteries of blood / Rose George.
Nine pints : a journey through the money, medicine, and mysteries of blood / Rose George.
Title Variants:
9 pints
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company : distributed in Canada by Raincoast, 2018.
Physical Description:
353 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Most singular reptile -- Janet and Percy -- An epidemic of women -- The yellow stuff -- Rotting pickles -- Nasty cloths -- Code red -- Two holes in the head.
Explores the science, traditions, and myths surrounding blood, from ancient bloodletting practices to the development of mass blood donations during the Blitz and from researchers working on synthetic blood to the lucrative business of plasma transfusions.
Subject Term:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
612.11 GEO Book Adult General Collection

On Order



An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science

Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don't even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.

Rose George, author of The Big Necessity , is renowned for her intrepid work on topics that are invisible but vitally important. In Nine Pints , she takes us from ancient practices of bloodletting to the breakthough of the "liquid biopsy," which promises to diagnose cancer and other diseases with a simple blood test. She introduces Janet Vaughan, who set up the world's first system of mass blood donation during the Blitz, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as "Menstrual Man" for his work on sanitary pads for developing countries. She probes the lucrative business of plasma transfusions, in which the US is known as the "OPEC of plasma." And she looks to the future, as researchers seek to bring synthetic blood to a hospital near you.

Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals our life's blood in an entirely new light.

Author Notes

Rose George is the author of The Big Necessity and Ninety Percent of Everything . A freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times , Slate , and the Financial Times , among other publications. She lives in Yorkshire.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything) offers an insightful, fast-paced account of the science, politics, and social history of blood. By visiting places that include a donation center in India and a leech farm in Wales (which, after a 2007 terrorist attack in London, supplied hospitals with leeches used in reconstructive surgery), she explores the fragility of the international blood supply. She writes poignantly about blood-borne viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Zika, and about the difficulty of ensuring that donated blood is safe, as underscored by tainted blood scandals in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1970s and in Canada as recently as 2013. Taboos associated with blood are vividly reported in Nepal, where George interviews young women banned from their homes and forced to sleep in sheds while menstruating, and in India, where she tells the intriguing story of engineer and entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose development and successful marketing of a "low-cost mini sanitary napkin manufacturing machine" began with his wearing a goat-blood-filled fake uterus made from a football. Noting that "every three seconds, somewhere in the world, a person receives a stranger's blood," this wide-reaching, lively survey makes clear that blood has become a "commodity that is dearer than oil." (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Be prepared to get angry. Not at this book or author George (The Big Necessity), who does an excellent job with the topic, but with the economic and social injustices surrounding blood; injustices that have a particularly high impact on women. Chapters on AIDS in South Africa and how it disproportionately affects young girls and menstruation taboos in Nepal are discouraging, but what is truly rage inducing is the evidence of how little research time and money goes to "women's issues" such as menstruation and PMS, especially in comparison to funds spent on erectile dysfunction. Other chapters focus on comparatively mild -topics -including blood donation and leeches. There are some disheartening statistics about how poor people are often exploited for their blood and how big pharma profits from freely given (or paid) donations. Regrettably, there is no call to action, though it does end on a hopeful note. VERDICT Recommended for nonexperts curious about their own bodies and blood as commodity in the world economy.-Cate Schneiderman, Emerson Coll., Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 My Pintp. 1
2 That Most Singular and Valuable Reptilep. 27
3 Janet and Percyp. 59
4 Blood Bornep. 99
5 The Yellow Stuffp. 133
6 Rotting Picklesp. 167
7 Nasty Clothsp. 201
8 Code Redp. 241
9 Blood Like Guinness: The Futurep. 263
Notesp. 289
Further Readingp. 332
Acknowledgmentsp. 334
Indexp. 337