Anesthesia is a relative newcomer to medicine. Up until the 19th century, surgeries were done without effective pain management. The best bet for pain was loads of alcohol and a variety of herbal concoctions. One well-used herb: the mandrake. The little forked root made famous by Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts.
Stephanie Snow’s book tells the charged story of chloroform, ether, politics, and murder in the 19th century. A smart book, a fascinating read. Dr. Snow is a Research Associate at the Center for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Manchester.