“Drawing on oral history interviews, medical journals, newspapers, meeting minutes, and private institutional records, Mawdsley reveals the intertwined social, political, ideological, and institutional actors involved in the construction of public consent for experimental medical research in the Cold War era… Mawdsley’s presentation of the untold case study of GG trials in the 1950s is an important contribution to scholarship focused on the sociological and political constructions of public consent and scientific success.”

Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

“Historians of science, scholars of science and technology studies and historians of medicine and public health will benefit greatly from this new addition to the polio story.”

Social History of Medicine

“Mawdsley’s book is a cautionary tale and leaves readers to consider the provocative assertion that ‘the appearance of progress mattered.'”


“Mawdsley uses the enthusiasm for Gamma Globulin and the ultimate clinical trial as a vehicle to explore more broadly mid-twentieth-century attitudes towards risk, scientific transparency, double-blind clinical trials, and the power of fundraising and marketing over science. Selling Science is well-written, clearly argued, and extensively researched.”

–Daniel J. Wilson, author of Living with Polio: The Epidemic and Its Survivors

“Mawdsley tells the riveting and forgotten history of a massive human experiment, conducted in the hopes of preventing polio. It provides a sober reminder of the limits of research ethics and scientific precaution in the face of a dread disease.”
–Angela Creager, author of Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine

“An excellent new book.”

Bulletin of the History of Medicine

“In Selling Science Stephen Mawdsley approaches polio from a different angle, following the history of the purified blood fraction gamma globulin, an antibody. As Mawdsley compellingly shows, the gamma globulin field trials marked the opening of a new chapter in the social history of biomedicine, one in which the methods of persuasion joined the methods of medicine in the structuring of clinical trials.”

The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

“Selling Science shows that the study of disability can offer significant contributions when spaces are explored, but where its presence might not be as tangible as when confined in a rehabilitation facility or linked to an association of people with physical impairments.”

H-Net Disability