‘The Icepick Surgeon’ Looks at the Messy and Sometimes Unethical History of Medicine


Science and medicine have transformed the way our world works and increased the life expectancy for many. However, sometimes the path taken to get to the knowledge can be pretty horrific. Author Sam Kean’s new book The Icepick Surgeon explores the world of medical exploration and some of the more horrific cases.

While you’re going to get the usual suspects like Nazi war criminals experimenting on prisoners in death camps, you’re also going to find out quite a bit about people you may not have expected. You’ll dive deep into the world of lobotomies. You’ll find out how Thomas Edison’s support of the electric chair caused a pretty nasty experience for a criminal on death row. You’ll also find out how the scientist who founded the Hunterian Museum in London pulled off one of the creepiest grave robbing schemes of all time. Oh, and pirates. There’s a whole bunch on pirates.

The Icepick Surgeon plays out with dramatic retellings, tons of fascinating facts, and gut-churning stories. I found myself reading passages out loud to my husband who would look at me like I’d grown a 2nd head. This book is definitely not for the squeamish, but it is extremely eye opening about quite a few people history has told us to revere as heroes.

The Icepick Surgeon is now available from Little, Brown and Company.


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