Review: The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds by Sam Kean

Cover for The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science by Sam Kean

Title: The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

Author: Sam Kean 

Narrator: Ben Sullivan

Length: 11 hours and 45 mins

4 stars out of five
4 stars – It was really good

Trigger Warnings: suicide, slavery, animal torture and death, Nazi experimentation and torture, experimental misconduct, miscarriages, forced impregnation and abortion, murder, torture, grave robbing, lobotomization, mental health, intentional infection of diseases, psychological experiments, electric chair deaths, 

“But when we sacrifice morals for scientific progress, we often end up with neither.”

The Icepick Surgeon exposes the crimes that researchers and scientists have committed throughout history and examines what pushed them to commit these crimes. The stories range from the 1600s to the present day and includes people like William Dampier, Henry Smeathman, Thomas Edison, and Walter Freeman. 

This was a very fascinating and interesting book, also slightly scary. It definitely shows the worst sides of science and medical history. I really enjoyed the wide range of scientific discoveries covered in this book, from paleontology, natural history, spying, mental health and psychological experiments.  I wasn’t expecting such a wide range of topics when I picked but it really worked for me. 

Kean has really done an amazing job at researching these topics and presenting them in a very informative and interesting way. Also, there is very little speculation in this book, which I think really helps show how impactful, and sometimes terrible, these discoveries were. Overall, this was a very fascinating, and sobering, book that covers a history of misconduct in the scientific community. I will definitely be reading more of Kean’s books in the future. 


Goodreads | Amazon



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