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The Facemaker: One Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I Hardcover – 7 Jun. 2022

4.7 out of 5 stars 327 ratings

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Product description

Review

Sometimes distressing, sometimes thrilling, The Facemaker had me gripped; it is elegantly written and endlessly fascinating. Employing just the right balance between diligent research and ingenious reanimation, Fitzharris brings to life a neglected slice of medical history, telling both Gillies' story as well as that of many of the men whose faces - and lives - he saved -- Laura Freeman ― Financial Times

With rich, glossy strokes
The Facemaker restores a sense of immediacy to the daily struggles facing Gillies and his colleagues as they improvised under constant pressure... The Facemaker hits its stride when it is explaining Gillies' surgical methods -- James Riding ― The Times

In this fascinating book, Fitzharris reminds us there is nothing superficial about plastic surgery's ability to heal minds as well as bodies. Five stars -- Kathryn Hughes ―
Mail on Sunday

Scholarly yet deeply moving... This is a fascinating book about a remarkable man, and of how teamwork is such an important part of good surgery. Despite the grim subject matter, it is a deeply moving and uplifting story -- Henry Marsh ―
New Statesman

Careful... sensitive... [Fitzharris] has successfully pieced together the story of a team of doctors, hospital workers and patients "battling" together during the First World War to modernize reconstructive plastic surgery... Fitzharris constructs a variegated and tender account of the First World War, its brutality and its narratives of human redemption... Tenderness and pathos pervade the personal stories of surgery and recovery, as well as Fitzharris's engagement with the ethics of facial difference and display -- Christine Slobogin ―
TLS

The Facemaker is an engaging biography of a masterful surgeon as well as a heartening account of medical progress ― Economist

Meticulously researched... Five stars -- Catharine Arnold ―
Telegraph

Sometimes distressing, sometimes thrilling,
The Facemaker had me gripped; it is elegantly written and endlessly fascinating. Employing just the right balance between diligent research and ingenious reanimation, Fitzharris brings to life a neglected slice of medical history, telling both Gillies' story as well as that of many of the men whose faces - and lives - he saved -- Lucy Scholes ― Financial Times

Engrossing... Fitzharris presents an intensely moving and hugely enjoyable story about a remarkable medical pioneer and the men he remade -- Wendy Moore ―
Guardian

A skilled storyteller, Fitzharris takes the reader back to the front, making them trudge and slide through mud filled with missing limbs to find the people who stagger into Gillies's casebooks... Properly contextualised, these faces become not objects of horror or surgery, as they have been all too often used, but pathways into understanding what it is to lose a face, and with it, not only the ability to eat, drink and breathe, but also social acceptance and love -- Fay Bound Alberti ―
The Lancet

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

Like Harold Gillies himself, Lindsey Fitzharris has taken something we might think of as grim and transformed it into something beautiful. Gillies will be an unsung hero no more -- Sam Kean

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

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

I was an admirer of Fitzharris's award-winning first book,
The Butchering Art, about Joseph Lister. This is her absorbing account of another surgeon: Harold Gillies, who established one of the world's first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction -- Editor's pick ― The Bookseller

Equal parts devastating and inspiring. The horrors of war are laid bare here, but the stories of each of the soldiers, doctors, nurses, and artists are incredibly poignant and fascinating. I couldn't put it down -- Jenny Lawson

An extraordinary story about a remarkable man whose work, determination and skill changed countless lives -- Peter Frankopan, author of THE SILK ROADS

Graphic yet inspiring, engaging... [Fitzharris] delivers a consistently vivid account... An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker -- Starred review ―
Kirkus

Wonderful... It was written with a clarity that I loved - although the book is packed with fascinating information, it read as easily as a novel... It is really inspiring and beautifully written -- Lucy Nathan ―
Bookbrunch

A fascinating portrait of pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies and the soldiers whose faces he rebuilt during WWI... Meticulously researched and compulsively readable, this exceptional history showcases how compassion and innovation can help mitigate the terrible wounds of war ―
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Sometimes, you just know. From the moment I read
The Facemaker's excellent prologue, I knew I had a book on my hands... Fitzharris is a gifted storyteller and delights in just about the right amount of detail -- Matthew Shipsey ― Irish Times

Informative... A powerful portrait of a gifted man -- Oliver-James Campbell ―
New Scientist

The Facemaker conveys the emotional, physical and psychical effects of having an injured and altered face, directly from those who had to deal with them... Powerful -- Sharrona Pearl ― Washington Post

In
The Facemaker, Fitzharris rescues another vital yet largely forgotten figure from history. Blending scrupulous research with a novelist's eye, the author charts Gillies's extraordinary contribution to reconstructive surgery and weaves in touching accounts of the soldiers he treated. Stark and occasionally unsettling, the book reveals Gillies as both a craftsman and an artist, and underlines how by restoring the faces of the maimed Gillies was also restoring their lives and identities -- Brendan Daly ― Business Post

From the Back Cover

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. The war's new weaponry, from tanks to shrapnel, enabled slaughter on an industrial scale, and given the nature of trench warfare, thousands of soldiers sustained facial injuries. Medical advances meant that more survived their wounds than ever before, yet disfigured soldiers did not receive the hero's welcome they deserved.

In The Facema

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen Lane; 1st edition (7 Jun. 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0241389372
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241389379
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 16.2 x 3.2 x 24 cm
  • Customer reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 327 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
327 global ratings

Top reviews from United Kingdom

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 July 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
By luke perry on 1 July 2022
A member of my family, Walter Perry, was a patient at Queen Mary's Hospital at Sidcup and had his face rebuilt in 1917 after receiving a gun shot wound which shattered his upper jaw and left a gaping exit wound. I previously read Dr. Andrew Bamji's brilliant book "Faces from the Front" to better understand the pioneering work carried out by Dr. Harold Gillies and his team, what Walter would have had to endure and what his rehab would have involved. Thanks to Dr Bamji, I was able to get a copy of Walter's medical records, including Gillies' handwritten notes as well as before and after photographs, which starkly illustrated the extent of damage. Against this background, I was really excited to learn more and keenly awaited the publication of Dr Lindsey Fitzharris's book "The Facemaker". I was not disappointed. It is well researched and beautifully written, bringing Gillies' character to life, as well as his deep compassion for his patients, positive attitude towards recovery and obsessive determination to make a difference. Not only Gillies though, but the humanity of all of the patients whose stories unfold from page to page. I could not put this wonderful book about hope and resilience down and am grateful to have been able to learn more. Highly recommended, as is a visit to the recently unveiled memorial to the men with broken faces at Queen's Hospital.
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