The Knife Man
Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery
By Wendy Moore
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767916530, 354pp.)
Publication Date: September 12, 2006
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In an era when bloodletting was considered a cure for everything from colds to smallpox, surgeon John Hunter was a medical innovator, an eccentric, and the person to whom anyone who has ever had surgery probably owes his or her life. In this sensational and macabre story, we meet the surgeon who counted not only luminaries Benjamin Franklin, Lord Byron, Adam Smith, and Thomas Gainsborough among his patients but also “resurrection men” among his close acquaintances. A captivating portrait of his ruthless devotion to uncovering the secrets of the human body, and the extraordinary lengths to which he went to do so—including body snatching, performing pioneering medical experiments, and infecting himself with venereal disease—this rich historical narrative at last acknowledges this fascinating man and the debt we owe him today.
Wendy Moore is a writer and journalist, specializing in health and medical topics. She has a diploma in the History of Medicine from the Society of Apothecaries. The Knife Man is her first book.
Praise for the Knife Man:
“The surgeon John Hunter (1728–93) is not a well-known name outside specialist circles, although that scandalous situation should be corrected by Wendy Moore’s marvelous biography.” —The Times Higher
“Definitely not for the squeamish, Moore’s visceral portrait of this complex and brilliant man offers a wonderful insight into sickness, suffering, and surgery in the 18th century.” —The Guardian (UK)
“Moore’s feel for pace and narrative is impeccable. Her book contains just the right amount of background scenery to bring Hunter alive without swamping him.… She is, at last, the biographer Hunter deserves.” —The Independent