Dr. Mütter's marvels : a true tale of intrigue and innovation at the dawn of modern medicine / by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz.

  • Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe
  • Books

About this work


A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country's most famous museum of medical oddities. Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools-or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century. Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time. Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum. Award-winning writer Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter's efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation-despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them : Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter's "overly" modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter's Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the "P.T. Barnum of the surgery room."--Provided by publisher.


New York, New York : Gotham Books, [2014]

Physical description

371 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


Monsters -- The City of Brotherly Love -- To render evil more endurable -- The medical Athens of America -- A falcon flight -- Ce que femme veut, Dieu le veut aussi! -- The Great Thaw -- The new Jefferson Medical College-- The right arm of the College -- Dwell not then upon what has been done -- The root of the trouble -- The world to come -- The women who were swallowed by fire -- To unmake monsters -- To remedy evils -- Gentlemen, this is no humbug -- Advent -- All the fair daughters of Eve -- If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole -- These deeds of blood -- That bourne from which no traveler returns -- The rich fruits of life's labors -- The voices of the illustrious dead -- Look to God for pardon -- While there is life, there is hope -- Leave nothing undone -- The world is no place of rest.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-354) and index.


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 1592408702
  • 9781592408702