Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical Practices by David Haviland

How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical Practices

14905411The medical community since Egyptian times has mad an amazing number of advances, but surprisingly, the primitives of the dusty past had some of it right, while much of it was quite barbarically wrong.
From Egyptian brain surgery to Cesarean birth, with every possible outlandish idea in between, David Haviland exposes medical science, and the lack thereof, for what it's been down through the ages. With fascinating tidbits of trivia concerning snake oil and quacks, and why we call them that, the author unpacks and analyzes purported myths like whether Jack the Ripper was a doctor, whether surgical instruments get left in patients, whether criminals harvest organs, why the stethoscope was invented, where birthing forceps were invented, early medical theories like bleeding and miasmas, versus germ theory and the accidental discovery of X-rays.

My Take:
This book was an interesting ride of medical trivia, and I found it quite entertaining and well written. The style was engaging and a bit titillating, the facts generally checked out when I took trouble to check them.

Even though this is a non-fiction book, figured I'd better put a bit about the content in here.

PG - The ravages of many diseases, and post surgical infections are discussed with some candor, and the violence of certain serial killers is described with a light level of detail.

R - While the majority of the book is squeaky clean, there is an interesting chapter on doctor's shorthand that drops the F-bomb multiple times, as well as a few other expletives.

Adult Content:
R+ - There is quite a bit of medical information on breast enlargement ideas, penile enlargement, and some completely unmentionable other early medical practices that resulted in sterility, death, etc. A frank discussion of bra sizing in the US and abroad, a discourse on STDs, impotence, and sexual contact with patients, as well as early methods of birth control. 

Christian content:
Pretty much nada. While the Hippocratic Oath is discussed in some detail, faith of any sort really doesn't hit the pages here.

Final analysis:
While I found this to be an entertaining read, I would not recommend it for teens or below, as it covers some barbaric practices before anesthesia. A light read, easy to put down or thumb through, with many interesting facts, some quite interesting and informative, some just, well, gut-turning. The writing style was decent and the information seemed well-vetted, but I just couldn't quite pull this one up past Four Stars.

About the Author:
David HavilandDavid Haviland is a bestselling author, ghostwriter, and journalist. He lives in London, England. For more amusing trivia, you can check out his website at

No comments:

Post a Comment