Review: Under The Knife, by Arnold Van De Laar @johnmurrays


About the book:

In Under the Knife, surgeon Arnold Van de Laar uses his own experience and expertise to tell the witty history of the past, present and future of surgery.

From the story of the desperate man from seventeenth-century Amsterdam who grimly cut a stone out of his own bladder to Bob Marley’s deadly toe, Under the Knife offers all kinds of fascinating and unforgettable insights into medicine and history via the operating theatre.

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?

From the dark centuries of bloodletting and of amputations without anaesthetic to today’s sterile, high-tech operating theatres, Under the Knife is both a rich cultural history, and a modern anatomy class for us all.

My thoughts:

This is an interesting look at the history of surgery. The author devotes each chapter to a different type of surgery, moving back and forth through time.

As you would expect from a book of this nature, it has its ups and downs. Some of the chapters were a little too grisly for me (especially the Gangrene operation!), however I did learn a lot.

There were several standout chapters. Some stood out for the patients (for example, President Kennedy and Harry Houdini) and some for the subject matter, for example Narcosis (the history of anaesthetic).

Overall, a good read. 4*

Under The Knife has recently been published in paperback. Thank you to the publishers for my advance copy. All opinions are my own.

2 thoughts on “Review: Under The Knife, by Arnold Van De Laar @johnmurrays

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