Excerpts from reviews of


"This is a fabulously written, fascinating history of the development of drugs. Sneader’s expertise in pharmacy and medicinal chemistry is put to good use as he weaves the story of the development of therapeutic drugs from the beginning of human history. The book is written to appeal to a general audience, but certainly its complete and comprehensive presentation would satisfy even a specialist in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. The description of the development of each class of drug would be interesting on its own, but the historical background for each serves to enhance the reader’s enjoyment.

... It should be on the shelf of any aspiring pharmacist, medicinal chemist, or person interested in the history of therapeutic agents. Although writing for a general audience, Sneader does present the structures and chemical principles involved in each class but does so in a way that these are accessible to all readers. There is a comprehensive bibliography that allows easy access to more in-depth scientific literature for those requiring that level of analysis. I highly recommend this book."
                                                                          Journal of Chemical Education, February 2006  (
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"This book will provide all interested in scientific historical writings a fascinating journey through drug discovery from prehistoric times to the present day. Dr Sneader’s writing style keeps the reader intently interested, not an easy task for a subject of this kind. The author claims that this book was written for the general reader, but it contains information and chemistry sufficiently detailed and advanced to appeal to medicinal chemists. The reviewer envisions an elective course at the professional or introductory graduate level built around this text.

“… Every chapter is thoroughly referenced. The book is an excellent bibliographic resource for those interested in the background papers that serve as the foundation for discovery of specific drug entities. The index is very complete. This is a book that belongs in the personal library of every medicinal chemist, pharmacist, and all others interested in drug discovery and the historical basis of medicinal chemistry."
                                                                            Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, June 2006

"Scientific books, as with many other things come in the categories of good, bad and in between. The bad ones are rare but unfortunately so are the good ones so it is a pleasure to report that this volume is outstandingly good. Indeed the amount of effort expended in amassing the material by a single author is quite staggering and it would have been notable even in a multi-authored volume."

                                                                           Chromatographia, April 2006 (read full review)

"...this comprehensive book on the history of drug discovery deserves to be on every chemist's wish list.  Its coverage is encyclopedic. ... Sneader provides us with an authoritative, yet extremely readable account of this highly interdisciplinary subject... This is a work of real scholarship that provides a superb account of drug discovery."
                                                                          Chemistry World, August 2005

"Written as a series of biographies of individual compounds, Sneader documents how their therapeutic potential was recognised and developed. It's crammed with interesting facts and anecdotes."
                                                                           Lancet, July 2005

"The process of discovery of medicinal drugs has evolved over millennia, from the use of herbs by Neanderthal man to the cutting-edge techniques of biotechnology and high throughput screening employed by today’s medicinal chemists. Sneader reviews this panorama of drug discovery from its earliest inceptions to the latest therapeutic substances used in the 21st century. His eminently readable text considers the origins, development, and history of medicines that have generated intense interest in the media and that have a great social and economic impact on our society. In a wide-ranging historical, social, and cultural context, it provides detailed treatment of pre-20th-century drugs, the enormous advances made during the 20th century, and the latest developments in research on drugs. In its coverage from the faltering attempts of the ancients through the present quest of scientists to develop safe and effective medicines, the book enables the reader to understand “both why efficacious drugs were not developed until the twentieth century and why progress has been so rapid over the last fifty years” (p ix).

"Sneader shares with the reader his knowledge of the details of the persons making discoveries, and he presents many vignettes and sketches that are not well known. As cases in point, we may cite how the use of coal gas in illuminating homes in England beginning in 1794 led to the discovery of phenol (carbolic acid), which Joseph Lister, professor of surgery at the University of Glasgow, employed as a disinfectant (pp 356–357) or how the Nazis suppressed the fact that aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), usually credited to Felix Hoffmann, was actually developed by a Jewish chemist, Arthur Eichengrün (pp 359–360), a secret that Sneader has disclosed elsewhere..."
                                                                        The Chemical Educator, December 2005
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"We have with this book an extensive source of information about drugs and their discovery. The book is written for the general reader and can be used excellently for teaching. But the specialist reader will find that the book contains an extensive list of bibliographic references relating to the discovery of drugs. All in all, Dr Sneader's book is written by someone who has a deep understanding of his object of research and it is essential reading for medicinal chemists, pharmacologists, organic chemists, physicians, researchers and anyone interested in the discovery and development of therapeutic drugs."

                                                Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2006                                                                                                   


"...a book of great merit and considerable scholarship..."

                                                   Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, November 2005                                                                                   


"...an important contribution to the literature on the history of drugs...a valuable resource for those working in the history of pharmacy, medicine, and science."
                                                                        Pharmacy in History, Vol. 47 (2005) No. 2


"...the book is great value for everybody..."
                                                                        Pharmazie, Vol 60, December 2005

"... where this book differs from many others of similar ilk is that it tells the story of discovery from the earliest moments of human civilization rather than just the last century or so. ... This isn’t a discussion about marketing, costing structures, regulatory issues, or analytical instrumentation. It is a story of people. It is a story of chemistry. It is a story of exploration. ... And yet, for all its chemical language, Drug Discovery: A History is very readable. Sneader speaks plainly for the most part and weaves a wonderful narrative...
... for educated friends and family who are interested in a social history of healthcare and science, this book is worth examining. ... for anyone who actually works in the pharmaceutical industry (and to a lesser extent the general chemical industry), this book is an absolute must..."    
                                                                        Drug Discovery News, October 2005
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"... Sneader’s book plants the origins of specific drugs firmly within a social context, from Neanderthal to today’s complex biotechnological advances in medicine. ... This book is highly recommended for health professionals, researchers, students and anyone interested in the development of medicines that we all too often take for granted."
                                                                        Science A Gogo, September 2005
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"…an entertaining as well educationally enlightening read."

Bulletin of the History of Chemistry, Volume 31, Number 2, 2006                      


"The scientist or lay person wanting a general background on the history of discovery, as well as glimpse of what is in store for the future, will find this book useful."

Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, No. 2, 2006)                                 


"…a valuable source of information and an enjoyable review of the age of synthetic chemistry with its great therapeutic success."

American Journal of Therapeutics, March/April 2006                                           


"…a thoroughly enjoyable book to read, to use as reference, or to jump into at any point. It is a must addition for the libraries of…anyone who wishes to know more about the drug discovery process and how it has evolved over time."

The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, December 2005                                                  


"...an important contribution to the literature on the history of drugs...a valuable resource for those working in the history of pharmacy, medicine, and science."

Pharmacy in History, Vol. 47 (2005) No. 2                                                                         


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