‘The Butchering Art’ Explores the Brutal Practices of Victorian Surgery

By on February 17, 2017

Step into the Victorian operating theater with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris in her new book to explore how Joseph Lister changed the world of surgery in the days before anesthesia and antiseptic.
The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
The Butchering Art – Pre-order now on Amazon

Lindsey Fitzharris has been providing fascinating glimpses into the dark corners of early surgery for years through her blog, The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, and her Youtube series Under the Knife. Yesterday she revealed the cover of her upcoming new book The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, in which she leads a guided tour into operating theater to cut open the horrors of medical history and poke around inside.

From the book description:

In 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, working before anesthesia, who 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.

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris

The Butchering Art hits the shelves October 17, 2017. Pre-order it now on Amazon.

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