Hempel, Sandra 1948-
Hempel, Sandra 1948-
Born January 6, 1948; children: two daughters.
Journalist and copywriter, specializing in health and social issues; has written variously for the Department of Health and the National Health Service, England.
Board of Science Award for the Public Understanding of Science, and a High Commendation in the Basis of Medicine category, British Medical Book Competition, both from the British Medical Association.
The Medical Detective: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera, Granta (London, England), 2006, published as The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals including the Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, and the Mail on Sunday.
Sandra Hempel is a journalist and copywriter who specializes in health and social issues. Her writing has appeared in various periodicals, including the London Times Sunday Times, Guardian, and the Mail on Sunday. In addition, she has written for England's Department of Health and the National Health Service (NHS). Hempel's first book, The Medical Detective: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera, which was published in the United States as The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera, was well received by critics. The volume won the Board of Science Award for the Public Understanding of Science, and a High Commendation in the Basis of Medicine category of the British Medical Book Competition, both from the British Medical Association.
The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump offers readers a biography of John Snow, whose contribution to medical science was an understanding of the spread of cholera that enabled doctors to put an end to the rapid transmission of the illness. Hempel describes the ravages of the disease in depth, discussing the impact both on society and the political considerations of the time. She also describes some of the places where the cholera epidemic was most severe, such as the Tooting child farm, a home and work place for destitute children that was particularly vulnerable due to overcrowding and pitiful sanitary conditions. Brian Clegg, reviewing the book for Popular Science Web site, commented: "Hempel maintains an interesting thread, and though the early chapters on the background of cholera and the ventures into politics aren't as gripping as those where we get the central character of John Snow involved, she tells a powerful and engaging story of this classic piece of medical detective work." Alfredo Morabia, writing for BMJ: British Medical Journal, found the book to be more popularized science than a truly scientific offering, remarking that it "reads like a well informed novel featuring Chadwick and Dickens, Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale," and going on to note that "in contributing to Snow's mythology, Hempel fails to address some basic questions any detective would ask." Morabia points out that the issue of how Snow in particular managed to solve the dilemma of how cholera spread, when so many doctors were investigating the illness, is never touched upon. However, Tony Gould, writing for the Spectator, dubbed Hempel's effort "a lively, well-researched book that will appeal to the general reader." In a contribution for the Contemporary Review, Richard Whittington-Egan wrote: "Hempel has reduced a complex story to an account of admirable lucidity, and has contrived to negotiate the pricklier scientific thickets with maintained readability."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
BMJ: British Medical Journal, May 20, 2006, Alfredo Morabia, review of The Medical Detective: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera, p. 1220.
Bookseller, June 9, 2006, Sarah Drake, review of The Medical Detective, p. 11.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July, 2007, G.M. Smith, review of The Medical Detective, p. 1941.
Contemporary Review, winter 2006, Richard Whittington-Egan, "John Snow and the Defeat of Cholera," p. 519.
Geographical, July 2006, Mick Herron, review of The Medical Detective, p. 81.
GP, November 10, 2006, review of The Medical Detective, p. 67.
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 13, 2007, Warren Winkelstein, review of The Medical Detective, p. 2532.
Science News, April 14, 2007, review of The Medical Detective, p. 239.
Spectator, April 1, 2006, Tony Gould, "He Knew He Was Right," p. 50.
Times Higher Education Supplement, November 2, 2006, W.F. Bynum, "Hero of the Soho Sick," p. 22.
Times Literary Supplement, January 5, 2007, Richard P. Novick, "At the Pump," p. 32.
Granta Web site,http://www.granta.com/ (December 8, 2007), author profile.
Lancet,http://www.pu.ucla.edu/ (May 20, 2006), Roger Cooter, review of The Medical Detective.
Observer Online,http://observer.guardian.co.uk/ (August 19, 2007), Robin McKie, review of The Medical Detective.
Popular Science,http://www.popularscience.co.uk/ (December 8, 2007), Brian Clegg, review of The Medical Detective.