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.
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.
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.” Download and start listening now!