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The Butchering Art: The Brutal Practices of Pre-Anesthetic Victorian Surgery

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.

Syphilis and the Grave of Al Capone

For the latest episode of Under the Knife, Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris goes on location to visit the grave of gangster Al Capone (with a bottle of gin, of course) in Mount Carmel Cemetery to explore his syphilis-fueled decent into madness and death.

Watch more episodes of Under the Knife right here.

What Do the Colors of a Barber’s Pole Mean?

I’d like a little off the top, please. Oh, and don’t forget the bloodletting.

You wouldn’t go to your barber today to get that life-saving kidney transplant, but in the early days of modern medicine you used to be able to get a whole lot more than just a shave and a haircut at your local barber shop. In the latest episode of Under the Knife, Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the role barber surgeons played in early modern medicine and the reason why barber’s poles have red and white stripes.

Watch more episodes of Under the Knife right here.

Under the Knife Returns!

The fascinating web series from Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris explores bizarre, quirky, and sometimes outright disturbing stories from the dark corners of medical history.

It’s been 18 months since we got a new episode of Under the Knife from Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, a medical historian with a morbid sense of humor we can’t get enough of around here. Watch the new trailer to see what’s been holding things up.

Under the Knife Episodes

Previous episodes of the series have included a variety of oddities and anecdotes about the trials and errors of early medical practices, from a single surgery that killed three people, to the unlikely history of a well-known breakfast cereal.

New trailer for Under the Knife with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris

We can’t wait to see what The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has in store for us next. The new episode is coming next week. Don’t miss it!

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Under the Knife Morbid Christmas Special with Dr Lindsey Fitzharris

Dr Lindsey Fitzharris becomes the dissected criminal in this morbid take on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas for the special holiday edition of her web series Under the Knife, featuring the art of Adrian Teal, animation by Joel Mishon and the vocal stylings of Alex Anstey.

Under the Knife morbid Christmas special with Dr Lindsey Fitzharris

More Under the Knife