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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  43 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Right up until the 19th century, physicians and philosophers regarded sleep as a state of near-oblivion in which there was no mental activity, a kind of halfway stage between wakefulness and death. For the Victorians, therefore, when anaesthesia was first practised, it was commonly seen as traumatic - for doctors were being asked to induce a condition looked upon as partia ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published January 20th 2005 by History Press Ltd (first published 2003)
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Beth Cato
My feelings on this book are mixed. It's not a bad book. It's not even dreadfully dull. But it also felt scattered in its approach and almost dizzying with the number of names it introduces, and didn't live up to my expectations.

Chloroform is a fascinating subject matter. It's a powerful anesthetic. It's a tool of rapists and murderers. I was intrigued by the early debates against chloroform, especially regarding its use in labor--that a woman should experience pain, because it's God's edict ag
Tara Calaby
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, science, medicine
This was surprisingly engrossing. By looking at one chemical, you get a medical history, a science history and a social history of the period. A really enjoyable read.
I didn't know how little I knew about the history of chloroform (trichloromethane) as THE modus of anaesthesia in the nineteenth (and twentieth) centuries ... until I read this book.

The author cleverly teases her reader by first establishing the question of establishment of a safe dosage (and the progressive invention of medical devices to administer a known dosage) given the significant number of healthy patients who inexplicably died during the process of anaesthesia. The social and medical h
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
This started out well, but after a very detailed account of the first hundred or so years of chloroform use and all is pitfalls and controversies, it ended quite abruptly. It was around 1900 and then suddenly it was like, "So, this is the state of chloroform today..." It was like the author got tired of writing. I would have given the book four stars if it weren't for the hasty ending, which left me hanging.
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It's very accessible without being over-vague. It's basically the history of the discovery and use of chloroform as an anaesthetic, and a little debunking of that old standby, "Does this smell like choloroform to you?" Pretty cool.
Douglas Fyfe
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Great read. Excellent science history. Fascinating tales, although some a little oblique to the topic at hand. Would recommend for anyone interested in chemistry, history, and even a bit of detective-like intrigue!
Liz Brown
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating and well-researched look at an interesting chapter in medical history
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
A litte repetitive, but interesting, nonetheless.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An essential addition to any history of surgery, anaesthesia, or pharmacy. Well-written and far more lively than its soporific subject matter.
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Linda Stratmann is a British writer of historical true crime, biography and crime fiction.
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