Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Poisonwood Bible

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 06 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5392
  1. Birte Twisselmann, web editor, BMJ
  1. btwisselmann{at}

The Poisonwood Bible might be considered Southern Baptist preacher Nathan Price’s journey into his own heart of darkness. Barbara Kingsolver, who trained as a biologist, is the offspring of two medical and public health workers who worked in what was then the Belgian Congo.

Her story, of the Price family’s mission to the Congo, is told from the perspective of Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, and his four daughters, one of whom, Adah, is mute and hemiplegic but who overcomes her disability to train as an infectious disease doctor. At the book’s conclusion, in the 1990s, she is a distinguished virologist at …

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