Pasteur and his Lieutenants Roux, Yersin and the Others Publication date : January 17, 2013
Annick Perrot is the curator of the Pasteur Museum.
Maxime Schwartz is a molecular biologist and a former director general of the Pasteur Institute. He is the author of Comment les vaches sont devenues folles and Des microbes et des hommes, qui va l’emporter?
‘Pasteur’s art, like Napoleon’s, consisted in waging battle when he chose, where he chose, on his own ground,’ declared François Jacob. And what military leader could be expected to do without an army and especially without lieutenants?
Nowadays, who remembers Emile Duclaux? And yet he gave his life to the Pasteur Institute. Who remembers Doctor Roux, who won an extraordinary victory over diphtheria? And how many of those who are familiar with the BCG vaccine know anything about its inventors, Calmette and Guérin? How many people know that it was Elie Metchnikoff who discovered the activity of white blood cells, and that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his findings? Does anyone still remember the name of Alexandre Yersin, who defeated the plague?
They were all Pasteur’s lieutenants and they all fought extraordinary battles against such infectious diseases as rabies, diphtheria, tetanus and tuberculosis, whose ravages used to decimate the cities and countryside, leaving thousands or millions dead. It is to them that we owe the development of hygiene and vaccines and the premises of the antibiotic revolution. This book tells the story of the battles they waged and won.
• Pasteur’s revolution, which marks the birth of modern medicine, is recounted here as a suspense-filled adventure story.
• The authors highlight the roles of some of the forgotten heroes of French scientific discovery.
• Alexandre Yersin is the hero of Patrick Deville’s recent, acclaimed novel Peste et choléra.