Non Fiction

The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean

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The author of this book has a podcast; this is something that is iterated at multiple sections of the book. It felt odd to interrupt plotlines to redirect attention to a podcast, so it stuck with me this long after having listened to the book. I think his research probably has the capacity to become more books like this one.
Although I had varying reactions to the number of times the author’s podcast came up, the overall experience of listening to the book was fascinating. I am a fan of the random factoids and facts that provide a very detailed picture of a time and place that I would otherwise never have investigated or known anything about.
There is a lot that is tackled here with each individual focus. The malpractices of science are different with changing times and morals of the people living and what they consider appropriate or even legal. However, the running theme is that for almost every great scientific achievement, the foundation is probably darker.
The author tackles everything from slavery to murder. He goes into the complexities of how modern scientists could (if it is even possible) acknowledge the murky beginnings while continuing to use the discoveries for good.
There is a lot of data here, but each large individual chapter focuses on one central character, although other interesting stories are examined at times. I cannot talk of individual chapters that caught my fancy because it has been a while since I listened to it all, but I must say that if I had the time, I would not mind listening to it all again and maybe do a little digging of my own the next time. I also think that the audio medium was well suited to go through the book. The narrator did a brilliant job of bringing the author’s words to life.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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