The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine

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About the Author Lindsey Fitzharris is the author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, which won the PEN/E. O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing and has been translated into multiple languages. Her TV series The Curious Life and Death of . . . aired on the Smithsonian Channel. She contributes regularly to The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and other notable publications, and holds a doctorate in the History of Science and Medicine from the University of Oxford. Product Description Winner, 2018 PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science WritingShort-listed for the 2018 Wellcome Book PrizeA Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2017, Publishers WeeklyA Best History Book of 2017, The Guardian"Warning: She spares no detail!" ―Erik Larson, bestselling author of Dead WakeIn The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth-century surgery and shows how it was transformed by advances made in germ theory and antiseptics between 1860 and 1875. She conjures up early operating theaters―no place for the squeamish―and surgeons, who, working before anesthesia, were lauded for their speed and brute strength. These pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than 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 riddle and change the course of history.Fitzharris dramatically reconstructs Lister’s career path to his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection and could be countered by a sterilizing agent applied to wounds. She introduces us to Lister’s contemporaries―some of them brilliant, some outright criminal―and leads us through the grimy schools and squalid hospitals where they learned their art, the dead houses where they studied, and the cemeteries they 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. Review Winner of the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Staff Pick on NPR’s best books of 2017Listed in the New York Times' 10 New Books We Recommend This WeekListed on The Ultimate Buzzfeed Books Guide “for the person whose interests skew morbid”One of Medscapes' “Books that doctors would love to give (or receive!)”“Atmospheric . . . The story it tells is one of abiding fascination.” ―Jennifer Senior, The New York Times"Vivid, gory." ―Agatha French, Los Angeles Times“[A] vivid picture. . . Some of it reads as the brutal relic of a vanished past; some of it reads as a brutal relic of the present.”―Genevieve Valentine, NPR"Readers interested in the medical field can’t go wrong with this one." ―BookishA Publishers Weekly Book of the Week"Pulsating, technicoloured . . . [Fitzharris] has an eye for morbid detail, visceral imagery and comic potential." ―Wendy Moore, The GuardianBook of the Day, The Guardian"Brilliant." ―Kate Womersley, The Spectator“Fast-paced, thoroughly researched . . . Fitzharris documents her hero’s long struggle against naysayers and rivals, as well as the setbacks he faced in his personal and professional life, in an engaging journey into the past. This is popular history at its best.” ―Dean Jobb, The Scotsman“The Butchering Art is an absorbing medical and social history that will leave you feeling both enlightened and thankful to benefit from the advances Lister (and his wife) popularized.” ―Sarah Harrison Smith, Omnivoracious“A fascinating account of how hospitals became places of healing rather than death.” ―The Daily Mail"The Butchering Art is a formidable achievement ―a rousing tale told with brio, featuring a real-life hero worthy of the ages and jolts

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