The Butchering Art Review

Darla’s review:

This book opens with the first use of Ether in surgery, on a man with a diseased knee, in a London Medical college.  The Ether surgery is successful and headlines state that ‘Pain has been conquered’.  Well, maybe pain from surgery (she goes into detail about surgery at the time, maybe not something you should read over lunch) has been conquered, but now comes the hard part, surviving the healing process.  In our time, we take the sanitary condition of hospitals for granted, but in the 1850’s it was common for surgeons to think that pus and stink were necessary for recovery.  Surgeons never washed their hands or instruments from one surgery to another and often reused bandages.  Joseph Lister, a new medical student, observed this operation and so begins the tale of how Lister, over years of his medical practice and research into germ theory, changed the face of surgery, treatment in hospitals and, above all, sanitary conditions.  Excellent, easy read.  Entertaining, humorous on occasion, a bit disgusting at times but overall fascinating.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in medical history, medical science or those who enjoy reading something out of the ordinary.

Click here to find The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris