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Publisher's Summary

The gripping story of how Joseph Lister's antiseptic method changed medicine forever

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of 19th-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. 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 medical pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than their 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 deadly riddle and change the course of history.

Fitzharris dramatically recounts Lister's discoveries in gripping detail, culminating in his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection - and could be countered by antiseptics. Focusing on the tumultuous period from 1850 to 1875, she introduces us to Lister and his contemporaries - some of them brilliant, some outright criminal - and takes us through the grimy medical schools and dreary hospitals where they learned their art, the deadhouses where they studied anatomy, and the graveyards they occasionally 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.

©2017 Lindsey Fitzharris (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Warning: She spares no detail!" (Erik Larson, best-selling author of Dead Wake)
"Fascinating and shocking." (Kirkus Reviews)
A top-10 science book of fall 2017 (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Fascinating!

Wow, what a listen! This is a truly enlightening book about the realities of surgery and medicine in the 1800’s and what men like Joseph Lister contributed to medical science. They helped change the outcomes for thousands of people. As a nurse, I am forever grateful for their research and for laying the groundwork for modern medicine! Fitzharris describes very bluntly what it was like in the operating theater and the dissection room. Ill admit I couldn’t finish my spaghetti while listening to some of these spots over lunch!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Very well done:)

Fantastic book. Very well written. Classy and smart. Also, fantastic narrator:) More medical history, please:)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Interesting Information

I found this listen very informative. The narrator was able to take me to the late 17th early 18th century when science was exploding. it was very interesting and anyone interested in medicine and the evolution of surgical practice and hospital care will enjoy this. I especially liked the epilogue which did a great job of bringing the book full circle. #AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Learned a lot

Great story, and we owe Lister a great debt for improving our medical care system.

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Surprisingly moving...

A book that is extremely informative and is very heartfelt. At times gross yes, but is on point and definitely worth a listen. Ralph Lister is a good narrator and adds flavor with a light touch.

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Really interesting, really gory!

What made the experience of listening to The Butchering Art the most enjoyable?

This was a great little history book about something that was very important in history. The detail of surgery and history was well done. The pace was good. Everything was packed full of information. The reader was wonderful!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Butchering Art?

All the detail in the surgeries was great!

Which character – as performed by Ralph Lister – was your favorite?

Listor was a boring person to be around I bet but reading about what he accomplished was fun!

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

The surgeries.

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  • Suzanne
  • Tampa, FL, United States
  • 11-19-17

Be prepared for the gore!

Lots of blood, pus, and other disturbing imagery, but, these are also historical fact. Just be prepared for the descriptions. Joseph Lister was an incredible person, a caring doctor and a brilliant scientist.

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Worth a credit

I could hardly stop listening. I rarely read nonfiction, but this book was facinating. The subject was presented in an easy to understand way. The narration was paced so to give more interest to the presentation.But there is one drawback, that is the material could be gruesome, but it was necessary to the account.

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Well written story of a great man

Lister was instrumental, along with Koch & Pasteur, in leading surgery out of its superstitious dark age into the Era of modern science.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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My best audible book yet

A fascinating story read by a terrific narrator who just happens to have the same last name as the main character. Kept my attention beginning to end. An educational, interesting listen. Highly recommended.