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“Poisoned – The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat” is Getting Great Reviews

Poisoned book Jeff Benedict.pngHere is a sample platter of the reviews on Poisoned that have come out in the last three months.

Roanoke Times:

“He also gives balanced treatment to the fast-food chain’s executives — men who could easily be vilified for the oversights that led to the tragedy — for their goal to set new industry standards for safety, to keep their company from shutting down in a storm of bad publicity, and for what seemed to be a genuine desire to help the families they inadvertently hurt, no matter how high the cost.”

“Benedict also touches on the ways the potentially deadly bacteria entered the food supply and how this outbreak, unlike others that preceded it, ended up improving standards for food handling in restaurants and processing plants.”

The News Advance:

“The story moves to Seattle, where hundreds of children get sick. Marler, a young lawyer frustrated with his career, starts learning about E. coli and amasses a list of clients.”

“He later helps one of those clients, Brianne Kiner, secure a $15 million settlement, the largest personal injury settlement at that time.”

“Benedict knows how to make a story both informative and important. “Poisoned” explains technical details as lawyers wrangle over legal fees and doctors run tests on micro-organisms, while also weaving in the emotions of individuals and families.”

The Richmond Times Dispatch:

“Anyone who has suffered from food poisoning knows the misery of the condition without going into detail. But few have found it life-threatening.”

The Day:

“A stunningly researched work, “Poisoned” reads as though Clarence Darrow had written “The Jungle” – and further proves Benedict is at the very top of those artistes whose narrative nonfiction burns like beach-happy, page-blasting thrillers.”

Poor Taste Magazine:

“After reading the first seven pages of your book, I was in tears, one hand covering my mouth, my heart racing as I learned the appalling story of six-year-old Lauren Rudolph, who succumbed to death just one week after consuming a dangerous, bacteria-filled hamburger. I was absolutely sucked in to your retelling of the outrageous, deadly E. Coli outbreak of the early ‘90s — a massive eruption of the most virulent strain of the bacteria that sickened over 600 people, killed four children, and nearly annihilated the Jack in the Box fast-food chain. Your simple but eloquent writing style kept me intrigued page after page, and as a result, Poisoned, with its revealing and heartbreaking stories of the victims of foodborne illnesses, took over my life for an entire week.”

Tri-State Livestock News:

“Benedict’s portrayal of those involved in the case of tainted hamburger traced to Jack in the Box restaurants is compelling, captivating and cautionary. As horrifying as the account is, Benedict tells it with compassion and class. So often lacking in what passes for news writing today, Benedict covers the story from every angle without passing judgment; he does it while presenting the humanness of those involved. From young patients to their parents, fry cooks to restaurant executives, physicians and scientists to the lawyers representing both sides, the reader rides shotgun in the fast-paced thriller that could pass for fiction. Only it’s not.”

 New York Times:

“Jeff Benedict manages to deliver a full literary experience of a medico-legal thriller in a work of nonfiction … Benedict delivers the story in a staccato, you-are-there fashion.” “There is only one supremely colorful character in the story that Mr. Benedict overlooks, and that is E. coli itself.”

“Poisoned” also received some extra exposure when another New York Times writer, Mark Bittman, who discussed “some stomach-churning facts about the E. coli outbreak,” with central character Bill Marler, the lawyer who sued Jack in the Box in the early 1990s.”

“The guy we have to thank for having our current level of protection against E. coli … is Bill Marler who made his bones in the Jack in the Box case.” 

San Diego Tribune:

“Benedict proves to be a master storyteller,” she wrote. “And his subtext is that because of what happened at Jack in the Box, the government changed its regulations, the company provided an all-encompassing plan that it shared with others in the industry to keep food products safe and people changed the way — and what — they eat.”

CS Monitor:

“Then Benedict moves on to the legal battle over the deaths, with a movie-like focus on the young attorney who represents one of the children. That lawyer, Bill Marler, breaks all the usual rules – viewing the child’s injuries, for instance, “more through the eyes of a parent than a lawyer.” But his unconventional approach proved successful and laid the groundwork for his current status as one of the country’s leading and most impassioned food safety lawyers.”

AP:

“Once the legal story gets rolling, however, ‘Poisoned’ becomes a fast-paced narrative and a cautionary tale about how public health policy, corporate practices and public relations, and lawyers’ chutzpah and frenzy for fees can converge in a place we all know well: the neighborhood hamburger joint,” Sullivan wrote. 

Bainbridge Island Review:

“Bainbridge Island resident Bill Marler remembers the outbreak well. After graduating from WSU, Marler was a third-year associate at the Seattle law firm of Keller Rohrbach. While the drama dominated the national media, Marler received a call from the mother of one of the afflicted children. A high-stakes legal battle ensued, wrought with cinematic-worthy drama.”

“The landmark $15 million settlement Marler won in a class action suit against the fast food chain propelled him into the spotlight. These days, Marler is considered the nation’s leading food safety lawyer.”

Kirkus Review:

“Just in time for BBQ season, an investigative journalist traces the path of a devastating outbreak of food-borne illness linked to hamburger meat.”

King County Bar Journal:

“Benedict has crafted Poisoned as a multi-part narrative, which takes us behind the scenes at JIB, into the slaughterhouses and hospitals, and through the legal machinations, bureaucracy, and skullduggery. Part of the story is the outbreak and the resulting, well-known legal case; the other side is the lesser-known – and still ongoing – changes in the food industry designed to clean up food processing and prevent future outbreaks. Most of these were initiated by Jack in the Box itself, which hired a leading food safety consultant as a full-time management employee to change the way – and what – Americans eat.”

“But there are two main characters: Bill Marler, the Seattle lawyer who represented many of the plaintiffs and made his name in the case,2 and 9-year-old Brianne Kiner of Seattle, his “biggest” client.”

Desert News:

Poisoned,” continues to grab headlines across the country.”

“With the recent E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France, Benedict’s nonfiction work is becoming a resource for people concerned about food poisoning issues.”

Grist:

“The result is a fast-paced, incredibly readable, even if at times a tad overly dramatized, story. (To be fair, it’s difficult to charge someone with overstating tragedy when it comes to the death of children.)”