“The Sawbones Book” has been revised and expanded for 2020 and we all know what that means. No, not a lot of COVID-19 talk, but an expanded infectious disease section that includes historical pandemics, epidemics and global panics feat. some notes about how we’re totally handling this pandemic so much better than we did in the past, (spoiler alert, we’re uh, kinda not).
The book is largely the same “Sawbones Book” as the previous hardback edition, but with additions, some rearranging, and the corrections of a bunch of typos. (Honestly, there were so many typos in the hardback that I’d assumed they were part of Justin’s “sorry if there were typos, I was trying to avoid looking at what I’m writing cause it’s gross” goof, apparently not.)
The biggest change is the addition of a “The Contagious” section that replaces “The Unnerving” as the first section of the book, which was bumped back to be section two, and has my absolute favorite opening bit. This new section includes new chapters, such as “Quarantine” and “The Deadly Parade,” and old chapters moved from other sections like “The Black Plague” and “Parrot Fever.”
“The Sawbones Book” is a wildly entertaining look at a huge swath medical history. For fans of the podcast, it recaps some of the greatest hits and is written very much the way Justin and Sydnee speak. If you’ve got a brain like mine, you can basically hear them reading the book (and they did actually do the audio book too.) For newcomers, it’s an easy to read look at medical history with a humorous twist that is just missing from your average history book.
My absolute favorite story in the book is the story of Henry Bessemer’s (of Bessemer steel fame) seasick-proof saloon, a free swinging room within a ship designed to prevent seasickness. It went just about as well as you might expect.
Most importantly, I think, is that this new edition of “The Sawbones Book” has retained the same ending line, which I love so so much. It is the latter part of Justin’s response to a question from a “The Doctor is In” section, where Sydnee answers general medical questions, and it is simply, “This is, literally, the worst day of my life.” And I feel like that’s just the perfect way to close out having just spent 200 pages learning about hilarious, terribad ‘cures.’
Go buy this book right now. It’s so much fun and it’s highly accessible to people without a scientific background. There are even handy dandy notes throughout to help you avoid the extra gross stuff, and although some of the page numbers weren’t updated to reflect the new edition, it hardly impacts the reading experience.
Even if you already bought the previous hardback edition, treat yourself and get yourself the new edition too. It’s definitely worth it.
If you enjoy my content and would like to see more, please consider buying be a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon!