© 2018

The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery

  • Thomas Schlich

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Periods and Topics

  3. Links

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 259-259
    2. Annmarie Adams
      Pages 261-281
    3. Harriet Palfreyman, Christelle Rabier
      Pages 283-300
    4. Michael Brown
      Pages 327-348 Open Access

About this book


This handbook covers the technical, social and cultural history of surgery. It reflects the state of the art and suggests directions for future research. It discusses what is different and specific about the history of surgery - a manual activity with a direct impact on the patient’s body. The individual entries in the handbook function as starting points for anyone who wants to obtain up-to-date information about an area in the history of surgery for purposes of research or for general orientation. Written by 26 experts from 6 countries, the chapters discuss the essential topics of the field (such as anaesthesia, wound infection, instruments, specialization), specific domains areas (for example, cancer surgery, transplants, animals, war), but also innovative themes (women, popular culture, nursing, clinical trials) and make connections to other areas of historical research (such as the history of emotions, art, architecture, colonial history). 

Chapters 16 and 18 of this book are available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license at


Medicine Cancer Historiography Enlightenment Infection Anesthesia Operation Ethics emotions patients Open access

Editors and affiliations

  • Thomas Schlich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Studies of MedicineMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

About the editors

Thomas Schlich, MD, is James McGill Professor in the History of Medicine at the Department Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University, Canada, and has a double qualification as physician and historian. His research interests include the history of modern medicine and science from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. He has previously written books on transplantation, and on operative fracture care as a domain where surgery, science, and industry come together. He is currently working on a monograph about the emergence of modern surgery, 1800-1914.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery
  • Editors Thomas Schlich
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-349-95259-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-95777-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-349-95260-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 578
  • Number of Illustrations 8 b/w illustrations, 17 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social History
    History of Medicine
    Cultural History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Surgery is approached as a specialized knowledge, as a technology, and as a social fact. … it will be used by a wide range of readers, from surgeons to historians of the hospital … . Chapters are divided in subsections identified by clear titles and the text includes references to notes (all grouped at the end of the chapters) together with a list of readings for further explorations. A substantial index ends the book.” (Alain Touwaide, Doody's Book Reviews, October, 2018)

“The essays range from antiquity to today’s bariatric, cosmetic and minimal access surgery, and are widely researched, clearly written and authoritative, backed up by extensive bibliographies. This is an important contribution to the subject of surgical history. It is not light reading, but it will be a valuable source book to anyone wishing to research in depth into any of its specialist topics.” (Harold Ellis, British Journal of Hospital Medicine, Vol. 79 (3), March, 2018)