Book Review: A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion.
The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (1) copy of “A Fierce Radiance” to be given out– enter at the end of the post.

My rating for A Fierce Radiance – 5

“A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer (website) is a historical fiction book about the search for penicillin. The push came during World War II when the need for this miracle drug became as important as any weapon.

  • 532 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN: 0061252514

Pur­chase “A Fierce Radiance” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK

“A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer is a well written book which is compelling and interesting. There are spies, sex, big money, scrupulous industrialists, incorruptible scientist as well as corruptible ones. The book is suppose to me a mystery, but the real mystery is how Ms. Belfer succeeded in making a book about penicillin so interesting.

Ms. Belfer tells us that on “D-Day, in June 1944, every medic going ashore in France carried penicillin in his pack”. That is an amazing achievement if you think about it. Before the ability to tame penicillin one could day from getting scratched by a thorn – life was that fragile.

I purposely used the word “tame” because penicillin’s healing power has been known for ages, but only a Scottish scientist named Alexander Fleming is known for actually pinpointing, or discovering, the antibiotic.

This book is historical fiction at its best. The storytelling is smooth and focused. Many historical figure make appearances, even though none of them are actually the center of the tale. The race to produce penicillin is described in a fascinating way and best of all, I learned something.

The ability to mass produce penicillin literally changed the world overnight. No longer does a parent fear that their child will die from scarlet fever, pneumonia or even a trivial scratch gotten during play.

There is a murder somewhere in there, but the quest for penicillin is so engrossing that the mystery is almost a disruption. This digression, in my opinion, is actually the weakest part of this graceful book. However, the descriptions of war time New York more then makes up for that.

So tell me: Do you think the government has the right to force private industry to work on its projects with no ability to patent their discoveries?

Claire Shipley, a single mother and a photojournalist working for Life magazine gets a new assignment, to document an experiment doctors are doing on a patient in New York’s Rockefeller Institute. Luckily for Claire, handsome doctor Jamie Stanton is on hand. Not so lucky is the patient.

Not enough penicillin is yet available to treat a patient all the way to a healthy life.

As the romance between Claire & Jamie heats up, the race to produce penicillin goes into overdrive. An uneasy alliance between a government at war and private drug companies is forged – all for the common good (supposedly). The government wants the drug companies to stay focused on penicillin, they want to make a profit.
Someone is going to have to give.

Pur­chase “A Fierce Radiance” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK



  • Con­test is for one (1) new copy of “A Fierce Radiance”.
  • There will be ONE (1) WINNER
  • Must be a US / Canada mail­ing Address
  • Ends Thurs­day April 21, 2011
  • Win­ners will be cho­sen using
  • Win­ners will have 24 hours after my ini­tial con­tact to write back their mail­ing address, oth­er­wise alter­nate win­ners will be picked

Congratulations: knittingandsundries@
TLC Book Tour for “A Fierce Radiance”:

Tuesday, March 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, March 29th: Bookworm’s Dinner (guest post)
Thursday, March 31st: Rundpinne
Wednesday, April 6th: Bibliophiliac
Monday, April 11th: That’s What She Read
Tuesday, April 12th: Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, April 13th: In the Next Room
Thursday, April 14th: Man of La Book
Monday, April 18th: Bookish Ruth
Monday, April 18th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, April 19th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Wednesday, April 20th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, April 21st: Debbie’s Book Bag
Monday, April 25th: Laura’s Reviews
Zohar – Man of la Book

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BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read “A Fierce Radiance”? If so link up your review below:

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