Arnold van de Laar, Andy Brown – translator – Under the Knife


Surgeon Arnold van de Laar uses his own experience and expertise to tell this engrossing history of surgery through 28 famous operations – from Louis XIV and Einstein to JFK and Houdini.

From the story of the desperate man from 17th-century Amsterdam who grimly cut a stone out of his own bladder to Bob Marley’s deadly toe, Under the Knife offers a wealth of fascinating and unforgettable insights into medicine and history via the operating room.

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?

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

Author: Arnold van de Laar, Andy Brown – translator
Narrator: Rich Keeble
Duration: 9 hours 41 minutes
Released: 18 Feb 2010
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Language: English

User Review:

equerry nostalgic

This is a mostly gripping description of medical life before anaesthesia, modern imaging techniques, and sterile operating fields. Shoot, mainstream medical practitioners didn’t even believe in the importance of washing up before surgery. Joseph Lister’s insistence on the presence of dangerous microbes was ridiculed by germ-deniers because germs are invisible to the naked eye. Kind of like denying the law of gravity, non?

The author presents a comprehensive layman’s guide to healthcare as the medical/pharmaceutical complex of the time struggled with superstition and sheer folly en route to the establishment of modern protocols of healthcare.

Keeble’s narration is pleasant and well-modulated.