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

Farrar. Oct. 2017. 304p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780374117290. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374715489. MED
Our understanding of health and medicine has developed rapidly in the last 200 years. This book looks at a pivotal time in that development and one of the leading figures of modern medicine, Joseph Lister (1827–1912). Through observation, experimentation, and a passion to keep patients alive, Lister eventually overcame the prevailing beliefs of his day and saved countless lives. Readers will learn how breakthroughs such as pasteurization and the use of ether as an anesthesia led to a greater comprehension of bacteria and infection. Examples of cases, including personal accounts by patients, reveal frightening and painful surgery experiences. Descriptions of cringe-worthy hospital wards demonstrate how far we have come in our understanding of sanitation. Providing insight into Lister's character as well as detailing his life and death in England and Scotland are his personal relationships with colleagues, students, and his father.
VERDICT A slightly gory, occasionally humorous, and very enjoyable biography of a man whose kindness, care, and curiosity changed medicine forever. An engaging read for history lovers.
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