Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Fishbein Fellow.
As the title of this book makes clear, a single definitive history of dissection is simply not possible. It is a subject that will always be controversial, and so stories about its past will always be contested. MacDonald begins with a description of Gunther von Hagens' public dissection of a human corpse in November 2002. Von Hagens claimed that he was making anatomy democratic again, comparing his work with the public dissections performed in Britain before 1832. However, MacDonald points out, executed murderers were the subject of these public events, and dissection was part of their final punishment. As MacDonald makes clear, “anatomy has a disreputable past” (p 3).
Blackman H. Human Remains: Dissection and Its Histories. JAMA. 2007;297(15):1717-1722. doi:10.1001/jama.297.15.1720