From a bestselling author comes this fascinating and thrilling tour of the darker side of science—from the past to the present, and even into the future.We think of science as a force for good—usually. So much of contemporary society is linked to scientific discovery that the word “science” has practically become synonymous with truth and progress. But what was the cost of that progress? And how far were scientists willing to go in order to test the boundaries that gave way to our modern world?
The Icepick Surgeon exposes this darker history, delving into the human costs of scientific study and examining what exactly pushes these otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science. Using fascinating case examples and posing essential questions of right and wrong, Sam Kean guides us through a history of malpractice and moral compromise, from Edison’s mercenary support of execution by electricity and the Nazis’ unpardonable explorations of human suffering on through the quandaries that lie ahead, with science ushering us into an unknown world.
In an age when many still feel that the end justifies the means, Kean stops to question the moral toll of unfettered progress. Unflinchingly skeptical and thrilling to the last page, The Icepick Surgeon threads an astonishing narrative through heinous acts and revelatory discoveries. The resulting analysis is a reckoning with the means through which science has created the modern world.
About the Author
Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of Caesar's Last Breath, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, The Disappearing Spoon, and The Violinist's Thumb, all of which were also named Amazon top science books of the year. The Disappearing Spoon was a runner-up for the Royal Society of London's book of the year for 2010, and The Violinist's Thumb and The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons were nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award in 2013 and 2015, as well as the AAAS/Subaru SB&F prize. His work has appeared in The Best American Nature and Science Writing, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, Slate, Mental Floss, and other publications, and he has been featured on NPR's Radiolab, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air.