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Deborah Blum

Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Poisoner's Handbook and The Poison Squad

  • About Deborah Blum

    Deborah Blum is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of five books, including The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, which was named as one of the top one hundred books of 2010 by Amazon. A highly acclaimed science journalist and former president of the National Association of Science Writers, Deborah is also co-editor of A Field Guide for Science Writers. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, optioned for film, and has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Slate, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Discover, and Health. She also writes about chemistry and culture for the Public Library of Science at her blog, Speakeasy Science.

    Deborah is the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches science writing, creative nonfiction, and literary journalism. Check out Deborah Blum’s Speakeasy Science blog here.

    Her latest book, The Poison Squad, is a thrilling account of the circumstances and personalities that created modern food safety standards in America, including the inimitable Dr. Washington Wiley.

  • Speaking Topics

    The Poisoner’s Handbook

    We take for granted our CSI-style world in which forensic scientists work hand in hand with police detections. But forensic science is an astonishingly new field—the first formal training in this country didn’t begin until the 1930s—and scientists didn’t really become powerful police allies until that time. Learn about the invention of forensic toxicology, the crusading scientists who changed the way we catch killers, and experiment yourself with being a 1920s forensic scientist determined to solve some of history’s most puzzling murder cases.

    Life on a Poisonous Planet

    Through a user’s guide to our chemical world, explore the everyday chemistry of our lives, what makes a poison, which household compounds we should treat with caution, and which we can safely embrace.

    Supernatural Science

    As the author of Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, Deborah traces the history of scientific efforts to prove supernatural events and what that research reveals about topics ranging from telepathy to ghosts to conversations with the dead.

    Communicating Science

    The importance of improving public understanding of science in a world in which issues like global climate change and the use of vaccine injections require a common sense understanding of how science works.

    The Art and Craft of Literary Journalism

    Workshops or lectures on using literary techniques to enhance journalistic storytelling from an award-winning literary journalist and experienced instructor, both in the United States and abroad.

  • Praise for Deborah Blum

    Praise for The Poison Squad

    Blum draws from her meticulous research to re-create the battle between regulation in the name of consumer protection and production in the name of profits.

    Scientific American

    You’ve probably never heard of Harvey Washington Wiley, but he’s probably the reason you aren’t sick right now. . . . Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Blum tells [Wiley’s] whole story in this fascinating book.


    A detailed, highly readable history of food and drink regulation in the United States. . . . [THE POISON SQUAD] shows the push and pull of competing economic, political and social interests. The journey our country has taken in establishing food, drink and drug regulation is an important one to understand because it is still going on.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Blum’s] prose is graceful, and her book is full of vivid, unsettling detail. . . . The Poison Squad offers a powerful reminder that truth can defeat lies, that government can protect consumers and that an honest public servant can overcome the greed of private interests.

    Eric Schlosser, New York Times Book Review

    Full of fascinating detail . . . a valuable contribution to understanding the politics of food.

  • Books by Deborah Blum

  • Media About Deborah Blum

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and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Deborah Blum travels from Madison, WI

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