England's L. J. Ludovici is an old and honored hand at turning to dramatic effect the working world of medicine, past or present, but rarely has he had such a ready-made psychological cliff-hanger as the mid-nineteenth century Ether Controversy and the two impassioned Yankees round which it raged. One was Dr. William Morton, the ""tall and handsome"" discoverer of anaesthesia; and second, Charles Jackson, a government geologist, on-time Morton associate and diabolic schizophrenic given to appropriating the genius of others. Through a mass of memoirs, trial transcriptions, newspaper data and pamphlets, author Ludovici highlights Morton's early Farmington experiments, then his first successful staging of ""a kind of sleep"" during a major Boston operation, and finally the bitter struggle to obtain patent rights via Congress, Europe, Medical Associations and one litigations after another, with the influential Jackson hounding and frustrating him at every turn. The result: Morton's wife and children knew impoverishment and degradation, while he went to an early death ""owing more dollars than would have covered him in his grave"". An inspired account of an infamous stranger-than-fiction tale.