When I was an impressionable preteen boy, my mother gave me a copy of Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters, and then, a few years later, she gave me Hans Zinsser's Rats, Lice, and History. I feel certain that were she alive today, she would give me (since I am an anesthesiologist) a copy of Arrows of Mercy, for it is in the classic mold of books romanticizing science and medicine. It does for curare and anesthesia what deKruif and Zinsser did for microbes and bacteriology.
Any book on curare which is written for the layman must be judged against Richard Gill's classic, White Water and Black Magic, which is a hard act to follow indeed. Smith's book succeeds for the very reason that it does not attempt to follow. Whereas Gill wrote of curare, Smith writes about curare and its niche in the overall development of anesthesiology. His book is