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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

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Sort by:
  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • India Clamp
  • California
  • 10-18-18

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia Ferrer
  • Delray Beach, Florida USA
  • 11-04-18

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.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • India Clamp
  • California
  • 10-18-18

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia Ferrer
  • Delray Beach, Florida USA
  • 11-04-18

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.