Lindsey Fitzharris at Harvard Book Store

presents

The Facemaker:
A Visionary Surgeon's Battle
to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I

Date

Jun
10
Friday
June 10, 2022
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes LINDSEY FITZHARRIS—award-winning author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine—for a discussion of her new book The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I.

Please note: This presentation presentation will include graphic material and photos/recordings are not permitted at this event.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About The Facemaker

From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: mankind’s military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. Bodies were battered, gouged, hacked, and gassed. The First World War claimed millions of lives and left millions more wounded and disfigured. In the midst of this brutality, however, there were also those who strove to alleviate suffering. The Facemaker tells the extraordinary story of such an individual: the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to reconstructing the burned and broken faces of the injured soldiers under his care.

Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, became interested in the nascent field of plastic surgery after encountering the human wreckage on the front. Returning to Britain, he established one of the world’s first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction. There, Gillies assembled a unique group of practitioners whose task was to rebuild what had been torn apart, to re-create what had been destroyed. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero, but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of disfigurement, Gillies restored not just the faces of the wounded but also their spirits.

The Facemaker places Gillies’s ingenious surgical innovations alongside the dramatic stories of soldiers whose lives were wrecked and repaired. The result is a vivid account of how medicine can be an art, and of what courage and imagination can accomplish in the presence of relentless horror.

Praise for The Facemaker

"Wow, what a book. Enthralling. Harrowing. Heartbreaking. And utterly redemptive. Lindsey Fitzharris hit this one out of the park." ―Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile

"Out of war’s most awful wounds, out of gore and terror and pain, Lindsey Fitzharris has―like Sir Harold Gillies himself―crafted something inspiring and downright miraculous. I cannot imagine the sweat and sleuthing and doggedness that went into gathering the details and building the narratives of these men’s struggles. This book is riveting. It is gruesome but it is also uplifting. For as much as there is blood and bone and pus in these pages, there is heart. As Fitzharris shows us, the scalpel is mightier than the grenade, and the pen is mightiest of all. What a triumph this book is." ―Mary Roach, author of Fuzz and Stiff

"Here is that rare thing: a little-known story of the Great War, featuring a pioneering surgeon every bit as daring as the soldiers he saved. Beautifully written, illuminating, and bursting with fascinating detail, The Facemaker is a groundbreaking work that deserves its own genre: medical noir. You won’t be able to put it down." ―Karen Abbott, author of The Ghosts of Eden Park

Lindsey Fitzharris
Lindsey Fitzharris

Lindsey Fitzharris

Lindsey Fitzharris is the author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, which won the PEN / EO Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing, and has been translated into twenty languages. Her TV series The Curious Life and Death of … appeared recently on the Smithsonian Channel. She contributes regularly to the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and other publications, and holds a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Medicine from the University of Oxford. She lives in Britain.

Photo Credit: Stuart Simpson

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