Under the Knife
A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations
By Arnold van de Laar
The history of surgery in 28 famous operations - from Louis XIV to JFK, and from Einstein to Houdini.
'This is history with a surgeon's touch: deft, incisive and sometimes excruciatingly bloody' The Sunday Times
'Utterly eccentric and riveting' Mail on Sunday
'Eye-opening and, frequently, eye-watering . . . a book that invites readers to peer up the bottoms of kings, into the souls of rock stars and down the ear canals of astronauts' The Daily Telegraph
How did a decision made in the operating theatre spark hundreds of conspiracy theories about JFK?
How did a backstage joke prove fatal to world-famous escape artist Harry Houdini?
How did Queen Victoria change the course of surgical history?
Through dark centuries of bloodletting and of amputations without anaesthetic to today's sterile, high-tech operating theatres, surgeon Arnold van de Laar uses his experience and expertise to tell an incisive history of the past, present and future 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.
Arnold van de Laar is a surgeon in the Slotervaart Hospital in Amsterdam, specialising in laparoscopic surgery. Born in 1969 in the Dutch town of 's-Hertogenbosch, van de Laar became fascinated by how the human body works in school biology lessons and went on to study medicine at the Belgian University of Leuven. Having travelled the world - the Himalayas, Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, Kashmir, and extensively in Africa - van de Laar took his first job as general surgeon on the Caribbean Island of Sint Maarten. He started writing pieces on surgical history in the Dutch medical journal Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Heelkunde in 2009. He now lives in Amsterdam with his wife and two children where, a true Dutchman, he cycles to work every day. This is his first book.
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- Publication date:
11 Jan 2018
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This is history with a surgeon's touch: deft, incisive and sometimes excruciatingly bloody . . . A fascinating combination of art, medical science and - still - daring butchery — The Sunday Times
Utterly eccentric and riveting — Mail on Sunday
Irresistible . . . Van de Laar renders complex surgical procedures not only understandable, but also immensely entertaining . . . A lot of fun — The Times
[A] fascinating history of surgery . . . eye-opening and, frequently, eye-watering . . . a book that invites readers to peer up the bottoms of kings, into the souls of rock stars and down the ear canals of astronauts — Helen Brown, The Daily Telegraph, 5* review
Fascinating . . . a brisk but revealing tour of the human body. Each story shines a light on the wonders and weaknesses of our biology, and on the science we have used to treat it — Irish Independent
Fascinating . . . The author's sense of humour is as sharp as his scapel — Spectator
In this witty chronicle, surgeon Arnold van de Laar dissects thousands of years' worth of remarkably gruesome stories. From anaesthetic-free amputations and bloodletting to Albert Einstein's aneurysm, these are key insights into the cut and thrust of medicine — Nature