Giveaway (US) and Spotlight on Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

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A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s “overly” modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the “P. T. Barnum of the surgery room.”

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Praise for Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

“In her deftly crafted narrative, the author provides an absorbing account of the charismatic surgeon’s life and career as well as a vivid look at the medical practices and prejudices of his time. Aptowicz draws nicely on Mütter’s speeches and lectures to reveal the depth of his empathetic philosophies and humanist approach.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“If you aren’t familiar with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, then you are doing a serious disservice to your sensibilities.” – Hothouse Magazine
“Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is a dizzying dervish of a poet, an astounding talent, a deft lyricist whose patented take on this dopey world is dazzling in its originality. Everything she encounters is fair game, and she jolts us into unexpected, delightful recognition.” – Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzle
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About the author:
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Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut,Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth and Everything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” In July 2010, she was named the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent the year researching and writing a book on Thomas Dent Mütter, founder of the Philadelphia’s (in)famous Mütter Museum. It was during this residency year that she was also awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.
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Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

Audiobook Brief: Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman by James C. Humes

churchillSynopsis: (Publisher) Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman reveals the astonishingly accurate predictions of Britain’s most famous prime minister and how his critics’ perceptions of them shaped his political career. Who could have foreseen the start of World War I twenty-five years before the assassination of a Serbian archduke plunged Europe into war? Who could have predicted the rise of al-Qaeda nearly eight decades before anyone had heard of Osama bin Laden? Winston Churchill did. Now for the first time, bestselling author James C. Humes reveals these and other shocking predictions made by this legendary figure. Churchill didn’t need a crystal ball to tell the future. Using his skills as a historian, he studied patterns of the past to make his eerily accurate forecasts, including the rise of European fascism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the exact day of his own death as he entered his final years. In fascinating detail, Humes’ astonishing biography documents the spot-on prophecies Churchill foretold and the political consequences he endured for sharing them.

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward”  Winston Churchill, 1944

My take: If you are a fan of Churchill you’ll want to read or listen to this book. It would also be a great gift! I found it interesting as well as informative – both on a level that forced a “Wow!” out of me from time to time. Although I enjoyed listening to the book I would recommend also reading the print book. I had to stop and ‘rewind’ more than a few times to get the full gist of what had just been said. If I’d been reading the actual book there would have been a lot of highlighting involved.

That said, I thought narrator Matthew Brenher did a wonderful job with James C. Humes’ book. His Churchill voice was  very good and fit perfectly into the narrative of each passage.

I find myself wanting to read more about Churchill and I see that Mr. Humes has written a few more so I’ll add them to my TBR list. Recommended.

Source: I purchased the audiobook.

The Greatest Music Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer

 Title:  The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy

Author:  Rick Beyer

Genre:  Nonfiction/Music

About:  (From the uncorrected proof) What does Marie Antoinette have to do with “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”? Which hugely popular song was written in a fit of anger at actor Robert DeNiro? How was a musical genius of the 1600s literally killed by his own conducting? Why has one country run through eight versions of its national anthem in the last hundred years – three of them written by the same person? How did an idea for a sitcom inspire the Woodstock music festival? And why is a virtual unknown named Ivan Vaughan arguably the most important person in the history of rock ‘n’ roll?

My thoughts:   You’ll have to read the book to find the answers! This book is the latest in The Greatest Stories Never Told book series. It is filled with surprising stories about music and familiar (and not so familiar) historical figures.

Each story is told on two pages and includes pertinent sketches and photos. I learned a lot from The Greatest Music Stories Never Told and think it would be the perfect gift for any music and trivia fan.

Source:  Harper

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Title: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Genre: History/Biography

About: (Goodreads)  The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings.

My thoughts: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book is one of the most inspirational I’ve read in quite some time.  She tells the story of Kamila Sediqi – a young woman who rose to the occasion when her father left the family in her care because he,her mother and brother had to flee Kabul after the Taliban invasion in the 1990s.

After some time had passed the need to buy food and other necessities prompted Kamila to find a way to earn money.  She went to her older, married sister who taught her how to sew.  From those lessons grew a cottage industry that employed many girls from her neighborhood. By teaching the girls to cut fabric, sew, bead, etc. she helped them gain confidence and self-esteem as well as a way to earn money to help support their families. Kamila risked her safety anytime she would go to the market where she bought fabric and sold finished garments. She couldn’t go out in public without her younger brother (a Taliban rule) and she had to wear the required chadri (burqa). She had faith that God would take care of her. That faith carried her through some very distressing times.

I was continually impressed by the courage and optimism displayed by all of the young people portrayed in this book. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a biography that reads like a novel.  It’s a compelling story of the power of the human spirit during impossible times.

I appreciated that the author included an epilogue and a Where Are They Today chapter.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Recommend? Yes, it’s an uplifting and inspirational story.

Source: HarperCollins

It’s All Greek To Me by Charlotte Higgins

It's All Greek to Me By Charlotte Higgins

From the back of the book: The legendary civilization of ancient Greece shaped nearly every aspect of our lives, from how we organize our societies to how we define the very essence of life. Consider the way we think: about morality, about the nature of beauty and truth, about our place in the universe, about our mortality. All this we have learned from the ancient Greeks. They molded the basic disciplines and genres in which we still organize thought: from poetry to drama, from politics to philosophy, from history to medicine to even ethnography.

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My take: I really liked this “layman’s guide” to many (if not most) things Greek. Charlotte Higgins walks the reader through the Iliad and the Odyssey; the ins and outs of Sparta; Greek architecture (which brought back memories of Mr. Tippery’s History class sophomore year – I had those column styles down pat!); mythology; and the philosophers. And that’s just some of the information that is packed into this gem of a book. There’s also a timeline, a map, and a Who’s Who of Greeks – actual and mythological.

It’s All Greek To Me will remain on my keeper shelf because it is such a handy source of information. Really, if you’d like a Greek reference book that’s easy to read and understand – and also quite interesting, this may be the book for you.

Review book from HarperCollins

Show Me 5 Saturday – McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy

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now hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here


1. Book title:
* McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey Of Discovery In The West Of Ireland by Pete McCarthy

2. Words that describe the book:
* Humorous Nonfiction

3. Settings or characters:
* Ireland
* McCarthy’s Bars (there are many)
* Pete McCarthy

4. Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* It’s funny – I laughed the entire flight home while reading this book
* I’ve travelled the path taken by Pete McCarthy a couple of times (Cork to Donegal along the coast) so I enjoyed reading his experience
* Underneath the hilarity is a deep affection for the Irish
* I liked it so much that it’s on my keeper shelf. I don’t loan it out but I’ve purchased copies for several friends and relatives

5. Stars or less: 4 stars – I thought it was entertaining and very funny. I looked at ratings on Goodreads (click the cover and then click the next cover) and found some reviews agreed with mine and some didn’t.
McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland
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Goodreads:
Despite the many exotic places Pete McCarthy has visited, he finds that nowhere else can match the particular magic of Ireland, his mother’s homeland. In McCarthy’s Bar, his journey begins in Cork and continues along the west coast to Donegal in the north. Traveling through spectacular landscapes, but at all times obeying the rule, “never pass a bar that has your name on it,” he encounters McCarthy’s bars up and down the land, meeting fascinating people before pleading to be let out at four o’clock in the morning.

Written by someone who is at once an insider and an outside, McCarthy’s Bar is a wonderfully funny and affectionate portrait of a rapidly changing country.


I purchased my copy and read it several years ago

Alice In Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy by William Irwin: Book Cover

Back of the book:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has fascinated children and adults alike for generations. Why does Lewis Carroll introduce us to such oddities as blue caterpillars who smoke hookahs, cats whose grins remain after their heads have faded away, and a White Queen who lives backwards and remembers forwards? Is it all just nonsense? Was Carroll under the influence? This book probes the deeper underlying meaning in the Alice books, and reveals a world rich with philosophical life lessons. Tapping into some of the greatest philosophical minds that ever lived – Aristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and Nietzsche – Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy explores lifes ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.

Should the Cheshire Cat’s grin make us reconsider the nature of reality?
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Can Humpty Dumpty make words mean whatever he says they mean?
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Can drugs take us down the rabbit-hole?
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Is Alice a feminist icon?

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My thoughts: I haven’t studied philosophy since my college days so I hardly feel qualified to analyze or debate any of the viewpoints expressed by the various authors. I can say each section of Alice In Wonderland And Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser is interesting, sometimes humorous, and definitely thought-provoking.

I found Scott F. Parker’s “How Deep Does The Rabbit-Hole Go?: Drugs and Dreams, Perception and Reality” interesting. Parker wrote about the possible drug references in the book as well as the hallucinogen experiences of some notable people before and during Lewis Carroll’s time, and also his own experience.

The book is divided into four sections that address various aspects of Alice in Wonderland. Each writer includes notes which are helpful. There is a contributors section that lists a brief bio of each writer. An index is also included. This book would be enjoyed by students of philosophy and popular culture, and of course, Lewis Carroll fans.

Now I have a confession: I’ve never read the original Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in its entirety nor have I seen the movie(s). I was more of a Nancy Drew reader as a young girl and Alice just seemed kind of silly. It simply didn’t appeal to me. But, fan of Alice in Wonderland or not, I think “Curiouser and Curiouser” is an interesting book.

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Information about The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series which includes Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser:

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and a healthy helping of popular culture clears the cobwebs from Kant. Philosophy has had a public relations problem for a few centuries now. This series aims to change that, showing that philosophy is relevant to your life- and not just for answering the big questions like “To be or not to be?” but for answering the little questions: “To watch or not to watch House?” Thinking deeply about TV, movies, and music doesn’t make you a “complete idiot.” In fact it might make you a philosopher, someone who believes the unexamined life is not worth living and the unexamined cartoon is not worth watching.

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About the Editors:
Richard Brian Davis is an associate professor of philosophy at Tyndale University College and the coeditor of 24 and Philosophy.
William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles, including Batman and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.

For more about The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series:www.andphilosophy.com



Review copy from FSB Associates