James Le Fanu

Pickled Parts

The Knife Man: The Extraordinary Life and Times of John Hunter, the Father of Modern Surgery


Bantam Press 482pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The eighteenth century had the usual drawbacks of pre-modern times – pestilence, slavery, amputations and dental extractions without anaesthesia – and much else besides. But this self-styled age of enlightenment had one decisive factor in its favour, an irrepressible conviction that reason would prevail and knowledge, zealously pursued, would abolish ignorance. This was a world full of promise, whose wonders, thanks to British naval power, were just waiting to be discovered: an era in which, for example, James Cook, during his three-year circumnavigation of the globe, could fill his ship’s hold with thousands of new and extraordinary specimens of plants and animals.

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