Under the Knife

A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations
Narrated by: Rich Keeble
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (160 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In cart

Publisher's Summary

Surgeon Arnold van de Laar uses his own experience and expertise to tell this engrossing history of surgery through 28 famous operations - from Louis XIV and Einstein to JFK and Houdini. 

From the story of the desperate man from 17th-century Amsterdam who grimly cut a stone out of his own bladder to Bob Marley's deadly toe, Under the Knife offers a wealth of fascinating and unforgettable insights into medicine and history via the operating room. 

What happens during an operation? How does the human body respond to being attacked by a knife, a bacterium, a cancer cell, or a bullet? And, as medical advances continuously push the boundaries of what medicine can cure, what are the limits of surgery? 

With stories spanning the dark centuries of bloodletting and amputations without anaesthetic through today's sterile, high-tech operating rooms, Under the Knife is both a rich cultural history, and a modern anatomy class for us all.

©2018 2018 text copyright Arnold van de Laar; 2018 translation copyright Andy Brown (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

More from the same

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    114
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    102
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    103
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

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

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

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Live THEN?

This is a mostly gripping description of medical life before anaesthesia, modern imaging techniques, and sterile operating fields. Shoot, mainstream medical practitioners didn't even believe in the importance of washing up before surgery. Joseph Lister's insistence on the presence of dangerous microbes was ridiculed by germ-deniers because germs are invisible to the naked eye. Kind of like denying the law of gravity, non?

The author presents a comprehensive layman's guide to healthcare as the medical/pharmaceutical complex of the time struggled with superstition and sheer folly en route to the establishment of modern protocols of healthcare.

Keeble's narration is pleasant and well-modulated.

7 people found this helpful

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

Why did a surgeon need a fast horse?

Books flood my box, they arrive in electronic, online formats and traditional (hardback/paperback) forms. The majority are written by surgeons on the verge of retirement and others from surgeons---like Gawande---at the height of their careers offering a clear, frank and “in your face” experience of the quotidian surgical struggles faced. It is a thoroughly engaging prefatory journey. Through personal experience (20 years) I find most surgeons are not only skilled with a knife but with words, direction and such is conveyed in neon-colored delineation painting vibrant verbal pictures not easily forgotten.

Under The Knife is a non-fiction book by surgeon Arnold Van De Laar, my version was translated from Dutch and narrated by a non-Dutch/non-surgeon named Rich Keeble. Under The Knife, cranks out some famous accounts of surgery and is ‘the history of surgery in 28 remarkable operations’. Dirty origins from “Lithotomy Surgeons” to the surgical mavens using precision via technological advancements we are fortunate to have today. The book is a true voyage through human body, opening up wide the ways (in the surgical theatre) things go terribly awry and what genius is called/paged/texted to solve issue or end it.

If gore is not for you, pus or sayings in Latin are vulgar things, then do not read this. Nasty, nefarious and pus-filled adventures are told in a ‘macabre’ trudge down the path and the read feels like getting the wind knocked out of you. This review is my latest in surgical streak and truth shines rather brightly in the gutter. Starts out with a frustrated Dutch man (who performs surgery on himself in 1651). Author is a surgeon in Amsterdam which means most deliciously that he imparts the details in a raw, clinical and straight forward manner on a most intelligent and fluid conveyance using tools like words, phrases in Latin, photos and intonation in non-monosyllabic way lacking idiocrasy.

Organization is commendable, and first case is our President (John F. Kennedy) another is George Washington (as we know, they both die) yet the details give us a clear surgical picture of what happened before clinical death. Cases from bullet wounds to fractures and gangrene, to obesity and anal fistula’s; the gamete of common surgeries is thoroughly covered. Under the Knife (is nakedly honest) imparts “technicolor” surgical lessons and most will find the surgeons descriptiveness unappealing and garish yet it’s told with clinical accuracy and becomes a colorful artistic masterpiece---as if Van Gogh was involved. Buy it, brilliant read, listen and visuals.

15 people found this helpful

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

T Is For Tedious

I wanted this book to be good but it's manner was irritating at best- There were a few good stories but they always stopped shy of delivering what all good stories have,,,,,,,,,,,,,An ending-
Took me nearly six months of sporadic listening to get through it-

2 people found this helpful

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

If you like surgery on TV

I’m a real life surgeon. All the time friends, family & strangers often want to know what being a surgeon is like. This book will tell you a lot about surgery, being a surgeon & even world history.

2 people found this helpful

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

Nicely dissected

Well--isn't that interesting. A thought that occurs and reoccurs in van de Laar's work. If you're interested in this sort of thing, you'll like it. And Rich Keeble comes as near as possible to perfection as a narrator for the subject covered.

1 person found this helpful

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

I will listen to this multiple times!

As a medical student and aspiring surgeon, I very much enjoyed this incredibly interesting book!

1 person found this helpful

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

candy for hx med buffs

historical stories of surgical tales of trial and error that eventually lead to lessons and improvements yielding better and safer surgical outcomes we enjoy today....thank goodness!!! well told: reader's voice fits perfectly with this subject.

2 people found this helpful

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

Interesting, entertaining, lovely dry wit

One of the more enjoyable audiobooks I’ve listened to in a good while. Highly recommended.

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

Superb-Oh!!

I love history, and having been involved in medical care of one type or another since the late 60’s, and a history nut besides, I LOVED this WONDERFUL book!!
Each vignette gives an insight into a new theory, or development, or happy accident, that advanced the theory and/or practice of medical care throughout history. Starting with BCE and moving all the way through to organ transplantation, there is well-narrated event after event, and term after term.
The two narrators are quite different, and each is well equipped to tell his side of the story.
The book is evidently written in Dutch, and the narrators are British, so some of the terms are pronounced differently from our US pronunciation. At first it was slightly jarring but soon settled into a comfortable rhythm. Many Americans don’t realize that although we in the US call both doctors and surgeons ‘Doctor,’ in the UK docs are called ‘Doctor,’ and surgeons are addressed as simply,
‘Mister.’ Sounds odd to us, I know.
Another slight difference is that as I understand it, nurses are nurses, but the frequently used,
‘Sister,’ is used for nursing supervisors or advanced practice nurses. ( That may be an error on my part, but my explainer was rushed and we had to cut the call— sorry if wrong: my error.)
If you enjoy history, medicine, or especially the combo: This is THE book for you!

** And remember: NO antibiotics, NO anesthesia ( not even local!), NO electricity, which meant sunlight or candle power, NO ambient
heating/cooling in any room, NO sterility— in fact mist of this history there was not even soap involved!! **