The Poisoner’s Handbook

American Experience: Poisoner's Handbook

    In the June 6th, 2016 Chemical and Engineering News magazine put out by the American Chemical Society, C&EN talks with Deborah Blum, journalist and author: From the article’s description, ‘The Poisoner’s Handbook’ writer talks about the beauty of chemistry and why she wants people to know more about it.

     If your unfamiliar with the book “The Poisoners Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” or the video  “American Experience: The Poisoner’s Handbook", then I suggest you check out the links provided. I haven’t read the book but I have used the video in my high school classroom. I shared clips of the video with my students and it served as a great introduction into many chemical topics such as how chemistry began playing such an important role in forensics.  The video explores the pioneering work of Charles Norris, a medical examiner and Alexander Getler, a toxicologist and the importance of their work during such a unique time in American history.  If you’re a history fan, or a forensic science fan, or you want to share with your students the fascinating chemistry associated with this then I recommend you check it out.

      If you’re an amazon Prime member, then the video is free to watch using the link above, if you are not then I was able to find it on YouTube.  If your school blocks youtube then in the app store you can download the app PBS video.   With this app you can watch many shows from PBS including if you search for Poisoner’s Handbook it will pop up for you to watch.  Here is a link to the movie’s transcript.  Next here is a link for video questions and even experiments that you can set up yourself to simulate what was done in the video.  I hope your students enjoy as much as mine.  

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Comments 2

Hal Harris's picture
Hal Harris | Tue, 07/05/2016 - 13:53

Users of the videos based on The Poisoner's Handbook might benefit by reading the review of the book that I wrote as a "Pick" back in 2010. It includes a brief synopsis of the book, which would provide context for the video lessons.