Polio was the most dreaded disease of twentieth-century America. Whenever and wherever it struck, hospitals filled with victims of the virus. Many experienced only temporary paralysis, but others faced a lifetime of disability. "Living with Polio" is the first book to focus primarily on the personal stories of the men and women who had acute polio and lived with its crippling consequences. Writing from his own experience as a polio survivor, Daniel J. Wilson shapes this impassioned book with the testimonials of numerous polio victims, focusing on the years between 1930 and 1960. He traces entire life experiences of the survivors - from their alarming diagnoses all the way to the recent development of post-polio syndrome, a condition in which the symptoms of the disease return two or three decades after they originally surfaced. "Living with Polio" also details each physical and emotional stage of the disease: the loneliness of long separations from family suffered by hospitalized victims; the painful rehabilitation as survivors tried to regain the use of their paralyzed muscles; and the return home and readjustment to school or work with the aid of braces, crutches, or wheelchairs.
Poignant and gripping, "Living with Polio" is a compelling history of the enduring physical and psychological experience of polio straight from the rarely heard voices of its survivors.
Daniel J. Wilson is professor of history at Muhlenberg College. He is the author of four previous books, including Science, Community, and the Transformation of American Philosophy, also published by the University of Chicago Press.