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THE FACEMAKER

A VISIONARY SURGEON'S BATTLE TO MEND THE DISFIGURED SOLDIERS OF WORLD WAR I

An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker.

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The author of The Butchering Art returns with “a new perspective on the terrible consequences of trench warfare, and the private battles that many men fought long after they put down their rifles.”

“Disfigured soldiers,” writes Fitzharris, “often suffered self-imposed isolation from society following their return from war.” While this has been true throughout history, the vast increase in military technology during World War I produced an avalanche of torn flesh and mutilated body parts that overwhelmed surgeons. Among more than 20 million injured, nearly 300,000 soldiers suffered facial trauma. In this often graphic yet inspiring, engaging book, the author focuses on Harold Gillies (1882-1960), a successful British ear, nose, and throat surgeon whose pioneering work in repairing faces places him among the war’s few true heroes. Sent to France early in the war, he observed freelance dental surgeons (the Royal Army Medical Corps had none) experimenting with facial reconstruction. He quickly established that the first principle of battlefield surgery—to close gaping wounds—was a disaster for jaw and facial injuries. Unless the damaged underlying structures were repaired first, the procedures guaranteed a grotesque end result. Returning to the Queen’s Hospital in London, Gillies persuaded the chief surgeon to establish a facial injury ward, which eventually grew to more than 1,000 beds and employed dozens of surgeon, dentists, artists, and sculptors who pioneered a new specialty: plastic surgery. The author’s case reports of individual soldiers are not for the faint of heart, but she delivers a consistently vivid account of the ingenious techniques involving skin flaps, grafting, reconstruction, and prostheses, most of which Gillies and colleagues invented. Many victims required dozens of painful procedures, and not all succeeded, but his accomplishments, along with his compassion, made him an object of worship from patients. A “genuine visionary in his field,” he received a good deal of favorable publicity in the media but only modest official recognition, including a knighthood in 1930, and he continued to practice until his death.

An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-28230-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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.

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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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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