Bestselling Author • Medical Historian • TV Host
The Butchering Art
Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
The story of a visionary British surgeon whose quest to unite science and medicine delivered us into the modern world – the safest time to be alive in human history.
Victorian operating theaters were known as “gateways of death,” Lindsey Fitzharris reminds us since half of those who underwent surgery didn’t survive the experience. This was an era when a broken leg could lead to amputation when surgeons often lacked university degrees and were still known to ransack cemeteries to find cadavers. While the discovery of anesthesia somewhat lessened the misery for patients, ironically it led to more deaths, as surgeons took greater risks. In squalid, overcrowded hospitals, doctors remained baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high.
At a time when surgery couldn’t have been more dangerous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: Joseph Lister, a young, melancholy Quaker surgeon. By making the audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection – and could be treated with antiseptics – he changed the history of medicine forever.
About Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris
Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris is a bestselling author with a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Medicine from the University of Oxford. Her debut book, The Butchering Art, won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science and has been translated into twenty languages. Dr. Fitzharris writes regularly for a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The Guardian, The Lancet, and New Scientist. Her television series on the Smithsonian Channel, The Curious Life and Death of…, explores some of the most mysterious deaths in history.
Dr. Fitzharris’s next book will be on the birth of plastic surgery told through the incredible story of Harold Gillies, the pioneering surgeon who first united art and medicine to address the horrific facial injuries that resulted from the First World War. She is also working on a children’s book with her husband Adrian Teal, notable artist and caricaturist for the hit TV series, Spitting Image.
No time to read? No problem! Listen to it on Audible.
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 Curious Life and Death of...
Author and medical historian Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris uses science, tests, and demonstrations to shed new light on famous deaths, ranging from drug lord Pablo Escobar to magician Harry Houdini. Using her lab to perform virtual autopsies, experiment with blood samples, interview witnesses and conduct real-time demonstrations, Dr. Fitzharris puts everything about these mysterious deaths to the test. Along the way, she’s joined by a revolving cast of experts, including Scotland Yard detectives, medical examiners, weapons gurus and more.
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