THE BUTCHERING ART

JOSEPH LISTER'S QUEST TO TRANSFORM THE GRISLY WORLD OF VICTORIAN MEDICINE

In deftly capturing an “epochal moment when medicine and science merged,” the author also offers an important reminder that,...

Medical historian and popular blogger Fitzharris narrates the quest of a tenacious 19th-century doctor to save his patients; in the process, he transformed the world of surgery and medicine.

Joseph Lister’s choice to become a surgeon was not the most obvious or reputable one for a Quaker growing up as the son of an esteemed scientist acclaimed for his improvements to the microscope. In the early 1800s, a surgeon was little more than a butcher, a “manual laborer who used his hands to make a living, much like a key cutter or plumber today.” It didn’t help that surgery was extremely risky for patients. The introduction of ether to British medicine in 1846 was a critical turning point because it afforded surgeons more time to perform procedures. However, patients were still dying of post-surgical infections in high numbers, and Louis Pasteur’s ideas about germs were still academic and not widely disseminated. Lister took up Pasteur’s work and applied it to surgery, experimenting and finally finding an antiseptic and technique that successfully lowered rates of postoperative infection. He made it his mission to share his findings with a medical establishment clinging to old beliefs. It is thanks to Lister’s tenacity and belief in the efficacy of his techniques, despite widespread skepticism, that so many people today don’t have to look at surgery as a possible death sentence. Fitzharris knows how to engage readers in fascinating and shocking details about medical history. She clearly, if sometimes quickly, explains medical and scientific terms and techniques while also using novelistic details and narrative techniques to move the story along.

In deftly capturing an “epochal moment when medicine and science merged,” the author also offers an important reminder that, while many regard science as the key to progress, it can only help in so far as people are willing to open their minds to embrace change.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-11729-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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