Why this book?
While purporting to be a book about the horrors of Victorian surgery, The Butchering Art is actually a fascinating exploration into the innovation of hygienic practices and antisepsis as pioneered by Joseph Lister. Among his other achievements, Lister invented carbolic spray, which maintained disinfection over the open cavity of the patient during surgery. With germ theory quite new, many in the medical profession questioned the need for hand washing and special clothing to prevent post-operative infection, which truly did make Victorian surgery frightening.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Winner, 2018 PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing
Short-listed for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize
A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2017, Publishers Weekly
A Best History Book of 2017, The Guardian
"Warning: She spares no detail!" —Erik Larson, bestselling author of Dead Wake
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, who, working before anesthesia, were lauded for their speed and…