Review of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
Author: Lindsey Fitzharris
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
This excellent history is not for the squeamish. It is no overstatement to say that antiseptic methods utterly revolutionized the practice of medicine in general, and surgery in particular. Fitzharris tells the story of the antiseptic watershed through a sweeping history of medicine and some very nice biographical work on key figures of the time and on Lister, who documented and championed the cause.
Lister was born to a Quaker family and was meant for the clergy, but his innate curiosity led him instead to medicine. His scientific mind, always questioning and testing, confirming and discarding methods based on results, and his stalwart determination to ease suffering, led him on a decades long journey that found him refine antiseptic surgery and then fight the entrenched medical mindset that found it hard to believe that such a change truly could save lives.
Those with a general love of history or the desire to know more about the practice of medicine, would do well to pick up this book. Lister and his stalwart dedication to making surgery safer, and lessening human suffering, helped to transform the eponymous butchering art from a practice based largely on the speed of the surgeon (and given to mishaps as a result of such speed) to a more considered and precise skill. Pain and illness have been reduced and countless lives saved in large part due to Lister, and that story is well worth being told and read.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...