The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
The Last Bookstore in pleased to present historian Lindsey Fitzharris, author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, for a reading, Q&A, and book signing.
Let us know you’re coming.
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, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. These pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than patients’ afflictions, and they were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. At a time when surgery couldn’t have been more hazardous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: a young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister, who would solve the riddle and change the course of history.
Fitzharris dramatically reconstructs Lister’s career path to his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection and could be countered by a sterilizing agent applied to wounds. She introduces us to Lister’s contemporaries—some of them brilliant, some outright criminal—and leads us through the grimy schools and squalid hospitals where they learned their art, the dead houses where they studied, and the cemeteries they ransacked for cadavers.
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.
Lindsey Fitzharris has a PhD in the history of science and medicine from the University of Oxford. She is the creator of the popular website The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, and writer and presenter of the YouTube series Under the Knife. She writes for The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Lancet, and New Scientist.
Please note that our store has limited capacity (a mere 300!), so get here early.
Those wishing to get books signed will be asked to purchase a copy of the author’s title from The Last Bookstore. Any outside books must be checked with security upon entering the store. This policy applies to all Last Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. Save your receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line.