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How the age of bloody, brutal Victorian medicine was transformed by one man




Neil Robinson shows a blood sample in Epalinges near Lausanne, Switzerland on February 25, 2009.
Neil Robinson shows a blood sample in Epalinges near Lausanne, Switzerland on February 25, 2009.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

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In her new book, “The Butchering Art,” historian Lindsey Fitzharris looks at the world of nineteenth-century surgery and how one man’s invention and perseverance changed the world of medicine.

That man was British surgeon Joseph Lister, who pioneered the use of antiseptic in surgery. Fitzharris traces Lister’s medical discoveries in painstaking detail that led him to conclude that germs were the source of all infection―and could be countered by antiseptics.

Guest:

Lindsey Fizharris, author of the new book, “The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine” (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017); she is also host of the YouTube series, “Under The Knife,” which takes a humorous look at our medical past