Digging Up the Dead: Uncovering the Life and Times of an Extraordinary Surgeon Hardcover – 1 Mar 2007
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"In this vivid account of 18th-century surgeon Astley Cooper's
life, Druin Burch tells of how the master dissector rose to become Royal
Surgeon to three successive monarchs and a member of the Royal Society...
Burch, also a doctor, mixes his narrative with recollections with
recollections from his own practice, which serve to enhance this lively
biography... All in all, a jolly good read"
-- BBC History Magazine
"a brilliant portrait of surgical life before the coming of anaesthesia, anitisepsis, antibiotics, and professional regulations" -- Literary Review, April 2007
'A fascinating insight into medical history and a real taste of
life at that time' -- BBC Focus
'Burch is an expert guide to the clinical reality of surgery in
Cooper's day' -- Nicholas Roe, Independent
'Burch is at his best.'
-- Sunday Telegraph
'Burch presents a past and present view of hernias, septicaemia,
aneurysms, even a case of what we now term Munchausen's syndrome'
-- Daily Telegraph
'Cooper, the resurrection man, would have approved both the
sentiment and this biography.' -- THES
'This wide-ranging biography, in his first book, adorns historical
insight with the gloriously gruesome detail of an anatomy textbook.' -- New Scientist
'an ambitious and convincing attempt to bring back to life the man
who was responsible for so many less respectable acts of resurrection' -- New Statesman
'does justice to a complex and not altogether pleasant man with
wit and intelligence'
-- Ian Simmons, Fortean Times
The gripping unknown story of a surgeon and his world (from grave robbers to the Prince Regent), told vividly from the inside by someone who is himself a young practising physician, who gives us a real insight into medical history and adds his own intimate, modern experience.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
He outlines the life of an extraordinary person, and manages to draw the reader in to not only the details of his life, but also the feelings he must have felt as he pioneered the types of basic surgery we take for granted. Exposing a fair bit of himself in the process, Burch has written a book that is easily readable by laypeople and gives an insight into traditional surgery - raw, unadulterated and with no anaesthetic !
For those interested in life in 17th and 18th century England, the book does not disappoint and Burch does a great job in recreating the sights and smells of the era.
All in all, well worth a read and an exciting book for a first time author.
Being a doctor and experienced in A&E has given Druin Burch an unique position from which to write about and review the life of a surgeon of two centuries ago. The juxtaposition of modern-day gore in the life of an hospital doctor with the frightening world of the surgeon (and in particular the patient) of the early nineteenth century could so easily have jarred but Burch works the two together seamlessly throughout the book and they help each other enormously.
It also contains easily the most revolting pair of sentences I have ever read together in any work.
Very difficult to believe that this is the first book from the author. Impossible to believe that it will be the last.
Digging up the Dead is the biography of Astley Cooper (1768 - 1841), a man whose initial aspirations were to graduate from apothecary to surgeon and thence the role of physician. A man who rose to be the richest surgeon in Georgian England.
Digging up the Dead also provides an absorbing insight into the age when surgical procedures and anatomical knowledge were severely limited; where surgery was often experimental and where the unfortunate patients faced both excruciating pain and the high risk of mortality.
Soon after commencing his seven year's medical apprenticeship in London, Cooper became intrigued with the science of surgical procedures - more specifically the art of human dissection. He believed that only through dissection, vivisection and surgery could the mechanisms of life be unravelled.
Though he preferred to hone his skill on the partially decomposed flesh of human cadavers, he also welcomed the opportunity to dissect and examine either live or dead animals. His specimens ranged from dogs and cats to exotics such as an elephant, kangaroo and whale.
Astley Cooper was a man of startling contrasts spending an hour a day with his hairdresser and insisting on wearing the finest silk stockings to complement the shape of his calf muscles.Read more ›
Despite not being a doctor I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in general history as well as medicine.
I was aware of the importance of Ashley Cooper but knew little about his work other than in a very general aspect. By the end of the book I was immensely grateful to him for being such a free thinker and pioneer into medical science that we all benefit from today. I felt the context was well researched, not subject to conjecture and well written - I have no medical knowledge but interested in that period of history and rapidly became engrossed in the book.
I only really purchased the book on a bit of a whim but I am thoroughly glad I did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent biography! The subject is fascinating in its own right, though the author expertly sets about creating the Georgian backdrop which adds another dimension. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Daniel
This is a life of Sir Astley Cooper, whose times straddled the 18th and 19th Centuries. He was Britain’s foremost surgeon of his day and this biography covers his rise to eminence. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Douglas Kemp
Thoroughly enjoyed this account of Astley Cooper's Life and it has helped with background information for a medical biography I am writing myself. Read morePublished on 24 July 2013 by Dr N Hervey
Based on true facts, An ancestor is mentioned so I bought the book and found it very interesting and informative apart from being a good storyPublished on 24 Dec. 2012 by Tony S
Superb biography written by a medically trained author. If you love history of surgery/medicine, you will love this tale of one of the greatest surgeons England produced.Published on 29 May 2012 by Steven Maturin
When this book arrived, with its murky cover and first pages devoted to the author not the subject, my spirits drooped. Read morePublished on 4 Dec. 2011 by James-philip Harries