In the Blood

How Two Outsiders Solved a Centuries-Old Medical Mystery and Took On the US Army

Coming Soon


By Charles Barber

Read by Ron Butler

Formats and Prices



  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
  2. ebook $14.99 $19.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $29.00 $37.00 CAD

The "high-stakes" true story of how an absent-minded inventor and a down-on-his-luck salesman joined forces to create a once‑in‑a‑generation lifesaving product: "Suspenseful storytelling helps us see and feel the struggle and frustration, the sweat and tears . . . Inspiring” (Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road).
At the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, dramatized by the popular film Black Hawk Down, the majority of soldiers who died were killed instantly or bled to death before they could reach an operating table. This tragedy reinforced the need for a revolutionary treatment that could transform trauma medicine. So, when Frank Hursey and Bart Gullong—who had no medical or military experience—discovered that a cheap, crushed rock called zeolite had blood‑clotting properties, they brought it to the military's attention. The Marines and the Navy adopted the resulting product, QuikClot, immediately. The Army, however, resisted. It had two products of its own being developed to prevent excessive bleeds, one of which had already cost tens of millions of dollars. The other, "Factor Seven," had a more dangerous complication: its side effects could be deadly. Unwilling to let its efforts end in failure—and led by the highly influential surgeon Colonel John Holcomb—the Army set out to smear QuikClot’s reputation.
Over the course of six years, Hursey and Gullong engaged in an epic struggle with Holcomb for recognition. Ultimately, a whistle‑blower inside the Army challenged the Army’s embrace of Factor Seven, which resulted in a massive lawsuit led by the U.S. Department of Justice. The lawsuit focused further attention on the financial ties between the pharmaceutical company that produced Factor Seven and Holcomb’s research institute.
By withholding QuikClot—which later became the medical miracle of the Iraq War—and in the use of Factor Seven with its known, life-threatening risks of heart attacks and strokes, the lives of countless soldiers were imperiled. Using deep reportage and riveting prose, In the Blood recounts this little‑known David‑and‑Goliath story of corruption, greed, and power within the military—and the devastating consequences of unchecked institutional arrogance.


  • In the Blood is an amazing, all-too-true underdog story with intensely high stakes—thousands of lives in the balance. Medical miracles don’t happen overnight, and Charles Barber’s suspenseful storytelling helps us see and feel the struggle and frustration, the sweat and tears. The result is inspiring.”Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road
  • "In the Blood is that wonderful kind of true story that is at times utterly unbelievable. Yet Charles Barber’s deep research and graceful prose turns it into something even greater: a portrait of an unlikely yet perfect friendship, a testament to the marriage of ingenuity and salesmanship, a fierce interrogation of groupthink, and a tribute to the courage of American soldiers and corpsmen. The story is inspiring, yet so many moments left me shaken."

    Jeff Hobbs, New York Times bestselling author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
  • Praise for Citizen Outlaw:

    “Plunges readers inside the belly of the beast with such searing credibility, you’ll feel you’re there. Brilliantly crafted . . . that rare book that educates, entertains, and inspires. It’s a must read for anyone interested in criminal justice reform and the power of the human spirit.”—Pete Earley, author of The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison
  • “An extraordinary book about an extraordinary man . . . a great American gangster story, told with wit and insight . . . riveting and unexpectedly moving—a life-and-death saga that is also a meditation on the nature of ambition.”—Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer, The New Yorker
  • “An elegantly written account tackling one of the most important moral issues of our time—the role of redemption in our justice system and our society. This book offers an unforgettable rendering of a life redeemed.”—Jennifer Gonnerman, author of Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
  • Praise for Comfortably Numb:

    “[An] informed writer on cultural history as well as neuroscience, psychotherapy, and economics . . . A blockbuster essential for all libraries.”—Library Journal, Starred Review
  • "Passionate yet fair-minded."—Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason
  • "Chronicles the extraordinary psychopharmaceuticalization of everyday life that has arisen in recent years and appears to be growing apace. Barber marks out the inconvenient truths on our path to emotional climate change but also offers alternatives to readers who wish to avoid pharmageddon.”—David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac
  • Praise for Songs from the Black Chair:

    “Imaginative and beautifully written, with vivid imagery and wit."—Journal of the American Medical Association
  • "Equally eloquent and insightful . . . Barber's ability to convey the experience of mental illness is striking."—New England Journal of Medicine
  • “Charles Barber’s In the Blood is a riveting tale of discovery, perseverance, and dedication to the simple idea that you can do well by doing good. In Barber’s accomplished hands, Frank Hursey and Bart Gullong become the everyday heroes you hope succeed and rejoice when they do.”
     —William D. Cohan, New York Times bestselling author of Power Failure and House of Cards

On Sale
May 30, 2023
Hachette Audio

Charles Barber

About the Author

Charles Barber is a Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University, a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and the author of the critically acclaimed books Songs from the Black Chair, Comfortably Numb, and Citizen Outlaw. He was educated at Harvard and Columbia universities, and lives in Connecticut with his family.

Learn more about this author