The classic medical text known as Gray’s Anatomy is one of the most famous books ever created. In this masterly work of creative nonfiction, Bill Hayes uncovers the extraordinary lives of the seminal volume’s author and illustrator while providing a “scalpel’s-eye” view into the ingenuity of the human body.
“All laud and honor to Hayes. In perusing the body’s 650 muscles and 206 bones, he has made the case that we are . . . ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’”
— The Washington Post
“Prose both lucid and arrestingly beautiful.”
“Hayes’s history of the illustrated medical text Gray’s Anatomy coincides with the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of its first publication. Fascinated by the fact that little was known about the famous book’s genesis, Hayes combed through nineteenth-century letters and medical-school records, learning that, besides Henry Gray, the brilliant scholar and surgeon who wrote the text, another anatomist was crucial to the book’s popularity: Henry Vandyke Carter, who provided its painstaking drawings. Hayes moves nimbly between the dour streets of Victorian London, where Gray and Carter trained at St. George’s Hospital, and the sunnier classrooms of a West Coast university filled with athletic physical therapists in training, where he enrolls in anatomy classes and discovers that ‘when done well, dissection is very pleasing aesthetically.’”
— The New Yorker, 2-4-2008
The New York Times Book Review, 1-13-2008
The Washington Post, 1-15-2008