Publication Date: 07/06/2022 ISBN: 9780241389379 Category:

The Facemaker

Lindsey Fitzharris

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 07/06/2022 ISBN: 9780241389379 Category:
Hardback

£20.00

Quantity:

Description

The poignant story of the visionary surgeon who rebuilt the faces of the First World War’s injured heroes, and in the process ushered in the modern era of plastic surgery

From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: mankind’s military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. The war’s new weaponry, from tanks to shrapnel, enabled slaughter on an industrial scale, and given the nature of trench warfare, thousands of soldiers sustained facial injuries. Medical advances meant that more survived their wounds than ever before, yet disfigured soldiers did not receive the hero’s welcome they deserved.

In The Facemaker, award-winning historian Lindsey Fitzharris tells the astonishing story of the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to restoring the faces – and the identities – of a brutalized generation. Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, became interested in the nascent field of plastic surgery after encountering the human wreckage on the front. Returning to Britain, he established one of the world’s first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction in Sidcup, south-east England. There, Gillies assembled a unique group of doctors, nurses and artists whose task was to recreate what had been torn apart. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero, but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of disfigurement, Gillies restored not just the faces of the wounded but also their spirits.

Meticulously researched and grippingly told, The Facemaker places Gillies’s ingenious surgical innovations alongside the poignant stories of soldiers whose lives were wrecked and repaired. The result is a vivid account of how medicine and art can merge, and of what courage and imagination can accomplish in the presence of relentless horror.

Publisher Review

Out of war's most awful wounds, out of gore and terror and pain, Lindsey Fitzharris has - like Sir Harold Gillies himself - crafted something inspiring and downright miraculous. I cannot imagine the sweat and sleuthing and doggedness that went into gathering the details and building the narratives of these men's struggles. This book is riveting. It is gruesome but it is also uplifting. For as much as there is blood and bone and pus in these pages, there is heart. As Fitzharris shows us, the scalpel is mightier than the grenade, and the pen is mightiest of all. What a triumph this book is -- Mary Roach Like Harold Gillies himself, Lindsey Fitzharris has taken something we might think of as grim and transformed it into something beautiful. Gillies will be an unsung hero no more -- Sam Kean Wow, what a book. Enthralling. Harrowing. Heartbreaking. And utterly redemptive. Lindsey Fitzharris hit this one out of the park -- Erik Larson, author of THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE Here is that rare thing: a little-known story of the Great War, featuring a pioneering surgeon every bit as daring as the soldiers he saved. Beautifully written, illuminating, and bursting with fascinating detail, The Facemaker is a groundbreaking work that deserves its own genre: medical noir. You won't be able to put it down -- Karen Abbott, author of THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK I was an admirer of Fitzharris's award-winning first book, The Butchering Art, about Joseph Lister. This is her absorbing account of another surgeon: Harold Gillies, who established one of the world's first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction -- Editor's pick * The Bookseller * Equal parts devastating and inspiring. The horrors of war are laid bare here, but the stories of each of the soldiers, doctors, nurses, and artists are incredibly poignant and fascinating. I couldn't put it down -- Jenny Lawson An extraordinary story about a remarkable man whose work, determination and skill changed countless lives -- Peter Frankopan, author of THE SILK ROADS Graphic yet inspiring, engaging... [Fitzharris] delivers a consistently vivid account... An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker -- Starred review * Kirkus * Wonderful... It was written with a clarity that I loved - although the book is packed with fascinating information, it read as easily as a novel... It is really inspiring and beautifully written -- Lucy Nathan * Bookbrunch * A fascinating portrait of pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies and the soldiers whose faces he rebuilt during WWI... Meticulously researched and compulsively readable, this exceptional history showcases how compassion and innovation can help mitigate the terrible wounds of war * Starred Review, Publishers Weekly *

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