I had heard of the Mutter Museum and I love watching surgery on the Discovery Channel or whatever, so I thought this book would be right up my alley, but I did not know Thomas Mutter was a fascinating person in his own right. He had “crazy” ideas about treating patients kindly, cleaning instruments (and his hands), post-operative care, and additionally was on the right side of a number of social issues. PLUS surgery* before anesthesia! Cool details about mid-19th century Paris and Philadelphia! And a super cool guy in Thomas Mutter. I read this book in just a couple of days — not the norm with me for biographies — and was engrossed in every single part. I have only one complaint and it’s small given how much I enjoyed this book: several times I had to stop and unravel a sentence to figure out what the hell she was trying to say. I am kind of an asshole about that sort of thing so the fact that I loved this book anyway says a lot.
This author, who’s unfamiliar to me, has six books of poetry and I’m about to buy one despite the fact that I never read poetry. Her research in this one is so impressive and her ability to say so much about not just Mutter but several other characters just blew me away. I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and energy she put into tracking down all of this information; her “Notes and Sources” section is meticulous, exhaustive, and cool to read in itself. She seems like she’d be awesome to hang out with.
*even plastic surgery, which I can’t believe I forgot to mention specifically, and being too lazy to edit properly am putting here. Mutter studied in Paris under some pioneering plastic surgeons and it’s amazing what they were able to do…without anesthesia….often with a large audience. Seriously, read this.