Review: Doctor Mütter’s Marvels

In preparing Doctor Mütter’s Marvels, Cristin Aptowicz has taken the most important first step in writing an interesting biography – choosing an interesting subject.  Thomas Dent Mütter is a dashing, slightly eccentric physician who lived a rags-to-riches success story and left behind a respected museum that is both a curiosity and a serious boon to science.  What could go wrong from there?

Lots of things could, but none of them do.  Aptowicz writes a tight, informative book that keeps the story moving while communicating both what’s interesting about Mütter personally – his drive, skill, and compassion – and historically – his role in founding an important early medical college, pioneering plastic surgery techniques, and collecting important medical specimens.  The resulting volume is a joy to read.

There are some choices I would make differently. For example, Aptowicz spends more time making sure readers know that one of Mütter’s rivals gets his just desserts than I cared about.  These are minor differences of preference.  Marvels does a great job telling the storing of a fascinating medical pioneer.


Comments are closed.