Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Century of the Surgeon

A review of a very well written book from 1957.

This Is Madness! This........Is........Sparta!,

Reading the first 100 pages of this book does make one cringe with horror at times. The author's clear descriptions of the patients, their pains and the surgical procedures, not to mention the saw and other primitive tools used to probe inside gaping incisions, are both mesmerizing and ghastly alive.

The writing is so convincing that you begin to feel as if you are there, suffering as a patient or stoicly ignoring the patients screams to continue the procedure as a surgeon should. The point is clearly made that many early day surgeons were butchers, both literally and figuratively.

I admit, I haven't finished this book yet. I really want to take my time savoring the atmosphere of this historical novel. I felt a need to write something about the pleasure and pain spent reading the first pages. The stories within the story just keep coming and so far not one has dulled my interest.

The writing stands true and concise. The characters are easily imagineable, so easy that its as if you recognize some from childhood visits to a doctor's office. Just try putting yourself in a doctor or patient's shoes of that era, that is where the reading becomes timeless and engaging.

But the real horror in reading this book about surgery prior to anesthesia is that it wasn't during the times of ancient Greece or Rome; this is a story that takes place in mid-nineteenth century Western civilization. This is NOT Sparta!

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