Book Review: Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger, Sandra Koutzenko and Sir Harold Evans (Foreword)

You may have noticed from reading Joyful Antidotes that there is a distinct lack of non-fiction reviews published. There is a simple reason for that: I don’t get along with non-fiction books. I often find them tedious to read and would rather learn about a topic by watching a documentary or via a fictional story. But every so often a non-fiction book comes along that changes me opinion…

Goodreads Blurb

Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger, Sandra Koutzenko and Sir Harold Evans (Foreword).

Thalidomide: patented in Germany as a non-toxic cure-all for sleeplessness and morning sickness; a wonder drug with no side effects.

The devastation this drug caused is boundless, the unborn victims of its neurotoxins left with deformities and without limbs, sometimes never to be born at all. In the UK, it took hundreds of foetal deaths and abnormalities to lead to the drug’s withdrawal, but in the US one woman stood in the way of Big Phrama and prevented catastrophe.

Here James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenko explore the devastating world history of thalidomide, its development, proliferation and its victims’ stories. Above all, they reveal the fascinating battle between Frances Kelley, newcomer to the FDA, and Big Pharma’s Richardson-Merrell, as she sought to block the drug’s introduction. A medical officer and scientist, Frankie was a hero who saved thousands, if not millions, of lives.

Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide Book Cob


What a story. I never knew anything about thalidomide and its effects before. And I certainly knew nothing about Frankie. I’m glad I do now. What an inspiration this woman was. I’ll be sharing this book with every female (and male) I know, especially young women considering a career in science. Frankie showed that you CAN make it in a male dominated world, and make an impact that changes the world.

The sheer amount of research that went into writing this book is phenomenal. It ranges from Frankie’s own story to the story of thalidomide survivors and the other people who played a part in this catastrophe. The best thing is that while there is vast amounts of information provided, it is not overwhelming. Each chapter (whether physically or in terms of the thalidomide story) is easy to digest. The chapters are straight forward and to the point but also not without emotional attachment, especially toward Frankie.

Even though this is a non-fiction book and may of you may already know how it ends, I don’t want to give too much away in this review. I really want you to read Frankie so that you can truly understand the power one person has when they decide to follow their gut and stand up to big corporations. Please pick up a copy and share this amazing story with the world once you are finished reading.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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