We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Dr. Mutter's Marvels Audiobook

Dr. Mutter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools - or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the 19th century. Although he died at just 48, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.
    • 1 audiobook per month
    • 180,000+ titles to choose from
    • $14.95 per month after free trial

Publisher's Summary

A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country's most famous museum of medical oddities

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools - or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the 19th century.

Although he died at just 48, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter's efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation - despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter's "overly" modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter's Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of 19th-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the "P. T. Barnum of the surgery room".

©2014 Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (P)2014 Penguin Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (184 )
5 star
 (91)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (2)
Overall
4.2 (163 )
5 star
 (83)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (25)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.4 (163 )
5 star
 (96)
4 star
 (45)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Todd PRINCETON, NJ, United States 10-08-14
    Todd PRINCETON, NJ, United States 10-08-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Creepy. Wonderful. Lost history."

    I've been to the Mutter museum and it is fantastically wonderfully, odd, creepy and 100% American. After listening to this book, I have an entirely different context, and I want to go back to the museum tomorrow.

    This is "lost history." We know the big stuff that happened, but this book is a wonderful example of the day-to-day lives of people, and of a city that wears its history on its sleeve.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    audifan California 11-03-14
    audifan California 11-03-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    89
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Maybe not the best in audiobook format"
    Any additional comments?

    The book was well written on a paragraph by paragraph level. However, overall, I found it disjointed. It didn't flow in a logical way. It jumped around in time a bit and focused on quite a few main characters. I also didn't think their was enough said on the actual surgical techniques he pioneered and how these procedures affected the patients.

    It was ok. The narration is great and it's an interesting topic but I've listened to other similar books on audible that were much more engaging and detailed.

    If I could go back in time I probably would not purchase it again.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. M. Roberts Southern California 04-21-15
    L. M. Roberts Southern California 04-21-15 Member Since 2013

    Reader And Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
    118
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating Medical History"

    This is a somewhat disjointed story of an early 19th century surgeon whose innovations were instrumental in the advancement of the medical profession. Thomas Mutter (MOO-ter) is someone most of us never heard of, yet he pioneered procedures that are still used today.

    That said, the audiobook made me really appreciate the art of narration. If the author's prose is a bit florid, the narrator's tendency toward melodrama pulls the whole thing together in a way that fits the period when the story is set.

    The "Marvels" refers to a collection of specimens Dr Mutter accumulated over his career, I suspect the title was imposed on the book by the publisher after it was written, because the collection is a very small part of the book as a whole story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    budsmom Baltimore, MD 01-24-15
    budsmom Baltimore, MD 01-24-15

    Mystery Maven

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating read!"

    Very interesting medical history in America. Dr Mutter was a great man whose work in surgery and anesthesia shouldnt be forgotten

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sheryl 04-30-15
    sheryl 04-30-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great read"

    Really interesting I loved it so many historical information things you never heard of in normal text books. Lots of quirky things

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anastasia Beaverhauzen 04-04-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    145
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Amazing Man and Surgeon"

    I must say this is one of the most interesting,fascinating books of a man of medicine I have ever read. What a treasure he was to the history of the United States. He was cursed with a short life, but he did more for medicine and Jefferson College then any man. He put his humanitarian heart into medicine. I will never forget his story and hope to visit his Museum soon!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    zein 03-08-15
    zein 03-08-15 Member Since 2013

    I am obsessed with learning. Either about history of society, epidemiology or spirituality. I would say I'm a seeker.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Would recommend!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it was a fascinating time in medicine and I learned so much.


    What other book might you compare Dr. Mutter's Marvels to and why?

    I haven't read another book that is similar


    Have you listened to any of Erik Singer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't but he did a great job.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The beginning part of the book was the best. It really delved into Mutter, his early life, plastic surgery and the beginning of anesthesia.


    Any additional comments?

    The end of the book really started to meander. The last chapter was necessary but there were a few chapters before the last that really were a complete tangent. Overall though, a book worth reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shannon e wilson 11-05-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My new hero"

    I had no idea Dr Mutter was such an incredible person! What a prolific fellow!Not only does this book focus on the life and work of Dr Mutter, it illustrates the history of medicine at the time and what an amazing time for modern scientific medicine. Really made me fall in love with science and medicine a little more. And Dr Thomas Dent Mutter may be one of my new heroes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calliope 09-13-15
    Calliope 09-13-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    376
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    256
    250
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    15
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A wonderful listen!"

    This is a great biography of an innovative doctor and, because he lived and worked over 150 years ago, it is also a look at the world he lived in at the time.....the state of medicine, the state of city life, the state of social mores and societal classes. Mutter had a different view towards this patients and his students that shook up the medical world, and he specialized in correcting deformities to bring new life to people who were shunned by society because of their appearance. He was an "early adopter" of the then-radical ideas - ideas like the benefits of good hygiene to prevent doctors from spreading disease to their patients, and the use of ether to provide anesthesia during surgery.

    The narration was great, which added and clarified the interesting and enjoyable text.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Worthington 02-24-15 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Starts out well but very slow"

    Just not much happens to keep you engaged unless you are really into specific medical history. A decent performance however

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.