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In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of 19th-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. She conjures up early operating theaters - no place for the squeamish - and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. These medical pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than their patients' afflictions, and they were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. At a time when surgery couldn't have been more hazardous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: a young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister, who would solve the deadly riddle and change the course of history.
Fitzharris dramatically recounts Lister's discoveries in gripping detail, culminating in his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection - and could be countered by antiseptics. Focusing on the tumultuous period from 1850 to 1875, she introduces us to Lister and his contemporaries - some of them brilliant, some outright criminal - and takes us through the grimy medical schools and dreary hospitals where they learned their art, the deadhouses where they studied anatomy, and the graveyards they occasionally ransacked for cadavers.
Eerie and illuminating, The Butchering Art celebrates the triumph of a visionary surgeon whose quest to unite science and medicine delivered us into the modern world.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By WRWF on 12-22-17
Not one boring moment!
If you were unlucky enough to have surgery in an English hospital in the mid 19th century, you often left as a corpse. This book shows the horrible conditions and follows the struggles of Dr. Joseph Lister who ushered in a new era in medicine and in the process saved countless lives. Both author and narrator do a great job of immersing the reader in the Victorian era. There is not one boring moment in this book.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 11-03-17
Wow, what a listen! This is a truly enlightening book about the realities of surgery and medicine in the 1800’s and what men like Joseph Lister contributed to medical science. They helped change the outcomes for thousands of people. As a nurse, I am forever grateful for their research and for laying the groundwork for modern medicine! Fitzharris describes very bluntly what it was like in the operating theater and the dissection room. Ill admit I couldn’t finish my spaghetti while listening to some of these spots over lunch!
19 of 20 people found this review helpful