Osler’s Web – Inside The Labyrinth Of The Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Epidemic



Osler's Web

A Review of Osler’s Web by Hillary Johnson.


About the book…..


The publication of Osler’s Web was both a literary event and a rare example of immersive journalism, the result of shoe leather reporting undertaken by journalist Hillary Johnson over a period of nine years.  Reviewers called Osler’s Web a watershed in the history of a world-wide outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) that began in earnest in the early 1980s.


Johnson’s series of intertwined narratives was a wholly original story that peeled back layer upon layer of misdeeds, unethical behavior, remarkable bias and incompetence at the highest levels of the American medical establishment. It remains the only book to chronicle in full the American government’s extravagantly failed response to the emergence of the myalgic encephalomyelitis epidemic, which arose concurrently with AIDS.  Then and today, anyone seeking to understand the reasons M.E. has been denigrated, mischaracterized and to this day remains unresolved will find the “Why?” in Osler’s Web.

Johnson was the only writer under contract with a major publisher on this topic for a decade. Her intensive effort involved fashioning a complex series of unrelated events and interviews conducted with several hundred people, few of whom knew one another, into a compelling story.  Reviewers commented on the book’s “cinematic” quality, suggesting it read like a “Hollywood melodrama,” and took note of the richly drawn characters, often characterizing them as heroes and villains. Although Johnson’s narrative was hardly inevitable, it nevertheless remains the only comprehensive narrative of the era and is regarded as the definitive political and scientific history of M.E.


To read more about this book, click on the link below:


Link to Osler’s Web site

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