The Sawbones Book

The Horrifying, Hilarious Road to Modern Medicine
Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,479 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

A compelling, often hilarious, and occasionally horrifying exploration of how modern medicine came to be!

Wondering whether eating powdered mummies might be just the thing to cure your ills? Tempted by those vintage ads suggesting you wear radioactive underpants for virility? Ever considered drilling a hole in your head to deal with those pesky headaches? Probably not. But for thousands of years, people have done things like this - and things that make radioactive underpants seem downright sensible! In their hit podcast, Sawbones, Sydnee and Justin McElroy breakdown the weird and wonderful way we got to modern healthcare. And some of the terrifying detours along the way.

Every week, Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin amaze, amuse, and gross out (depending on the week) hundreds of thousands of avid listeners to their podcast, Sawbones. Consistently rated a top podcast on iTunes, with over 15 million total downloads, this rollicking journey through thousands of years of medical mishaps and miracles is not only hilarious but downright educational. While you may never even consider applying boiled weasel to your forehead (once the height of sophistication when it came to headache cures), you will almost certainly face some questionable medical advice in your everyday life (we’re looking at you, raw water!) and be better able to figure out if this is a miracle cure (it’s not) or a scam.

©2018 Weldon Owen Inc. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    792
  • 4 Stars
    348
  • 3 Stars
    215
  • 2 Stars
    86
  • 1 Stars
    38

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    736
  • 4 Stars
    299
  • 3 Stars
    181
  • 2 Stars
    87
  • 1 Stars
    60

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    733
  • 4 Stars
    332
  • 3 Stars
    185
  • 2 Stars
    66
  • 1 Stars
    36

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gross and Entertaining Medical History

Sawbones delivers on amusing and disgusting accounts of medical mishaps and poor decisions over the ages. The sections are broken into themes of treatment types or specific ailments. Mostly read by Sydnee, the doctor, the book is punctuated with asides and goofs from Justin, the not-doctor. It's a good book for passing time on a commute, but not great dinner conversation.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just like an extended podcast episode

Listening to the authors read this book is just like a 6 and a half hour podcast episode. My advice, buy the hard cover for the pictures, and get the audiobook to hear the book how it was meant to be read.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fan of Podcast Loves This Book

I was worried that I would be basically paying to listen to a podcast I’ve already heard. But I didn’t feel that way at all, it was not the silly conversation format but like getting a personal collegiate interesting lecture from Sydnee.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sawbones for Life!!

Get this book. If you’ve listened to the podcast.. get this book.. if you haven’t listened to the podcast, GET THIS BOOK!!! And start listening to the podcasts you fool. The correct answer to any question is “get this book.”

I love their podcast and even though much of the content of the book is in their podcasts it’s fun to listen and read along with them. It’s like remembering old times with good friends over a glass of wine.

By the way, Sydnee if you’re reading this.. I listened to every single episode of Sawbones while driving to and from work in less than a year. I meant to only listen to one a day so I’d have it for the whole year but It’s addictive and I couldn’t wait for the next topic. Now... I have to wait for the next topic because I listened to all of them..

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

this book cured my anxiety

i would listen to justin & sydnee read a phone book! fortunately, this book is a million times more interesting than that. if you’re looking for something hilarious, informative, and insightful, this is the book for you. also, if you want to hear justin’s voice get progressively more gravely, this is the audiobook for you.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I loved it

this book was fun, informational and awesome!! It is also not for those with a weak stomach.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable listened to it in one day!

Loved listening to this. I spent all my time while working listening to these two awesome people talk about medical history.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome!

I loved it! Justin and Sydnee's first book is amazing. I love all the fun and not so fun facts!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Funny and Informative

I loved the way this book is organized. The authors/ narrators had a flawless performance.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Esculent Macabre for the Ears.

This book is great if someone has never heard the Sawbones Podcast in their life, or if they've never missed an episode.
Thouroughly enjoyable romp through medical history, hosted by people well practiced in voice work!

7 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M. J. Beckwith
  • M. J. Beckwith
  • 12-03-18

Sid and Juice done did it again.

Amazing as always. I bought the book, I bought the audio book and I've listened to every podcast. So this is a very biased review.

You will laugh, you will wretch and most importantly you will learn a thing or two.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lilith Grandeur
  • Lilith Grandeur
  • 12-10-19

Fascinating

An excellent book read by two people with pleasant voices. Fun, if a bit gruesome to listen to over lunchtime

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for R Dubs
  • R Dubs
  • 07-11-19

Not So Hilarious

I don't listen to the Sawbones podcast but I'm a big fan of the McElroy brothers so I thought this would be a good jump off point. Sadly, Justin and Sydnee's performance here was enough to put me off.

I'm sure the actual podcast is more organic and less cringeworthy than this book, but the delivery of material here was stilted and unconvincing. Justin is a naturally hilarious man and a killer storyteller so why he sounds like a bad impression of a bad comedian is beyond me. We have to suffer poor jokes, unnatural delivery and, in the moments the pair interact, a lack of chemistry.

Sydnee does most of the work here and, while she comes across as bizarrely over-concerned with listeners copying the horrible acts in medical history she covers, she presents her book well enough. Again, her jokes fall flat.

It's fitting that the word I would pick to describe this book is 'sterile'. The material is uninspired, the delivery is amateur, and it just comes across that they could have tried harder.

This might just be me but the near constant announcement of chapter titles, section titles, subtitles, and poems (?), all delivered in the same dull tone without any cues that they aren't one continuous flow, makes the narrators sound insane at points.

I would consider this book a misstep, and I encourage the McElroy spouses to keep at it and work on learning how to present their natural wit and charm in this environment.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joanne D.
  • Joanne D.
  • 04-04-19

Funny and informative

While I appreciate that the authors are not professional narrators, and while I love Justin McElroy’s podcasts, I felt like his recordings were rushed. There are multiple times where he stumbles over words and instead of going for a clean take, they just kept that one for the audiobook. I realize he’s a busy man but it just seems unprofessional. Also a few sentences seem read incorrectly (like pausing for a period instead of a comma in the middle of a sentence) and I just don’t get why they didn’t go for better takes. There are a few cuts here and there but it’s still not a great outcome. I’m not going to criticize the fact that it sounds read and not narrated because, as I mentioned, they’re not professional narrators, since I mainly got this audiobook *because* it was read by the authors. But what I will criticize is the Jay-man’s joke delivery. Most of his humor in podcasts is improvised and not written in advance, but it’s like he forgot how to tell jokes once he had to read something he wrote beforehand. Maybe with this audiobook it would be better to buy the physical book and imagine their voices in your head - I feel like some of the jokes would land better this way. I still loved the content of the book, I just expected more from the narration.