Jena Henry's Reviews > How to Remove a Brain: and Other Bizarre Medical Practices and Procedures

How to Remove a Brain by David Haviland
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really liked it

“Physicians of all men are most happy;
What good success soever they have the world proclaimeth,
And what faults they commit, the earth covered” (Francis Quarles)

On this jolly note, Author David Haviland begins his presentation of the odd and awful, the famous and infamous, and the puzzling and perplexing stories of humans, their bodies and diseases. When I considered whether to read and review this book, I said yes, mainly because I have a secret crush on the author. (He’s English…his name…he works in publishing…)

And now I have to say that I am delighted I read this book. I enjoyed it and I have become quite the conversationalist since I added these interesting stories to my repertoire.

The chapter titles themselves are fascinating: Disgusting Diseases, Curious Cures, Rude Bits and my two favorites, The Good Doctor and Snake Oil. In The Good Doctor, we learn about many major breakthroughs in medicine, eradicating smallpox and cholera. And that’s all wonderful, but I loved the story titled, “What was unusual about Dr. James Barry?” This answer to this is incredible!

The reason I enjoyed the Snake Oil chapter is because it demonstrates the power of marketing. We think we invented marketing and social. Ha! Marketing was amazingly successful hundreds of years ago- people made fortunes. May I recommend the story about the tapeworm trap and also James Graham’s Celestial Bed- now those bits showed the power of marketing! (Would you be surprised to learn that Mr. Graham was a self-styled “sex guru”?)

The author writes in a clear and light-hearted style. Each story begins with a question that will hook you in, and Mr. Haviland’s answer is concise, yet flavored with fun and interest. The book seems to be accurate and well-researched. I liked that the author was curious and not critical. Time have changed but curiosities and wonder, trivia and fun facts remain and make this an engaging read. This book is Shortlisted for The People's Book Prize 2019.


Thanks to Net Galley and Thistle Publishing for a review copy. This is my honest review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 14, 2019 – Shelved

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