A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country's most famous museum of medical oddities
Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools - or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the 19th century.
Although he died at just 48, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.
Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.
Award-winning writer Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter's efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation - despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter's "overly" modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter's Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of 19th-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the "P. T. Barnum of the surgery room".
©2014 Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (P)2014 Penguin Audiobooks
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"Creepy. Wonderful. Lost history."
I've been to the Mutter museum and it is fantastically wonderfully, odd, creepy and 100% American. After listening to this book, I have an entirely different context, and I want to go back to the museum tomorrow.
This is "lost history." We know the big stuff that happened, but this book is a wonderful example of the day-to-day lives of people, and of a city that wears its history on its sleeve.
"Maybe not the best in audiobook format"
The book was well written on a paragraph by paragraph level. However, overall, I found it disjointed. It didn't flow in a logical way. It jumped around in time a bit and focused on quite a few main characters. I also didn't think their was enough said on the actual surgical techniques he pioneered and how these procedures affected the patients.
It was ok. The narration is great and it's an interesting topic but I've listened to other similar books on audible that were much more engaging and detailed.
If I could go back in time I probably would not purchase it again.
"Fascinating Medical History"
This is a somewhat disjointed story of an early 19th century surgeon whose innovations were instrumental in the advancement of the medical profession. Thomas Mutter (MOO-ter) is someone most of us never heard of, yet he pioneered procedures that are still used today.
That said, the audiobook made me really appreciate the art of narration. If the author's prose is a bit florid, the narrator's tendency toward melodrama pulls the whole thing together in a way that fits the period when the story is set.
The "Marvels" refers to a collection of specimens Dr Mutter accumulated over his career, I suspect the title was imposed on the book by the publisher after it was written, because the collection is a very small part of the book as a whole story.
Very interesting medical history in America. Dr Mutter was a great man whose work in surgery and anesthesia shouldnt be forgotten
Living in Philadelphia, to me the Mutter Museum was a cool place that housed the strange tools of physician's past. When I think of Mutter, I think of awesomely creepy tales of how we once treated patients-- awake, screaming, and with devices that now serve as fodder for our better horror flicks. I had no idea that, in reading this book, I would come to know and love the dynamic and empathetic Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter. Though I already knew Mutter was long dead, I felt a real loss when the author took me to his death, back in 1856. Interestingly, Wiki has page for the Mutter Museum but not a page for Mutter himself! I am hoping this author might remedy that (or that someone less lazy than me will rise to the task).
In this book, Christian O'Keefe Aptowicz provides a rich history of the medical education undertaken by students as well as medical practices in early America through the 1900s. The author's focus is on one of the most innovative and compassionate doctors in history, Dr. Mutter. Mutter attended America's first and foremost medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to play a pivotal role in helping make the newest medical school, Jefferson Medical College, a great success. In his time as educator and surgeon, he witnessed the birth of anesthesia (which he was oddly forbidden to use for quite some time), performed ground-breaking plastic surgery on burn victims, dealt with other doctors who were more interested in feeding their own egos than pushing medicine forward, and navigated Victorian society (which was decidedly less progressive than he). This book also touches on some interesting aspects of germ theory, women in medicine, and slavery and abolition (in both the North and South). It even provides a quick history of the famous students who were taught and inspired by Mutter. My only wish were that the book were longer and provided even more information about this incredible man's short but fruitful life that had quite an impact on the face of medicine.
Really interesting I loved it so many historical information things you never heard of in normal text books. Lots of quirky things
Yes, it was a fascinating time in medicine and I learned so much.
I haven't read another book that is similar
I haven't but he did a great job.
The beginning part of the book was the best. It really delved into Mutter, his early life, plastic surgery and the beginning of anesthesia.
The end of the book really started to meander. The last chapter was necessary but there were a few chapters before the last that really were a complete tangent. Overall though, a book worth reading.
"required reading for every medical professional"
ones appreciation for medical innovation, awareness, mindfulness and compassion is brought to light and should forever shine in our lifelong careers.
"Vivid biography of pre-civil war American surgeon"
Fantastic. Both the content and performance were absorbing-- bringing to life the times and medical knowledge in the Philadelphia where Dr. Mutter lived, taught, and practiced medicine. The narrator has done his homework and pronounces both medical terms and the French names (From Dr. Mutter's Paris trips) in seamless narration. The author quotes memoirs, speeches, books, articles, and letters of the principals in the story in a way that carries the stories with their voices. And wow! How brave or desperate did a person have to be to submit to surgery then! Mutter's intelligence and humanity shine through his compassionate, thoughtful practice.
The books story line just kept me going on to read especially when Dr. Matter is doing the presentations for his classes before he passed away.
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