by Richard J. Wolfe, 182 pp, with illus, $20, Boston, Mass, Boston Medical Library, 1993.
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The title doesn't quite capture what the reader finds between the covers. Mr Wolfe has written a detective story about the origin of Robert C. Hinckley's 8-×-10-foot painting of the first ether anesthesia. The narrative is based on historical facts and embroidered with a portrait of the artist—his life and times. It is difficult to imagine today the enormity of the event that occurred on October 16, 1846, in a building that shall evermore be known as the Ether Dome. Surgery without pain! That it took place in Boston—and at the Massachusetts General Hospital—was a source of great local pride and notoriety. This exhaustively researched treatise has 120 pages of text, 26 illustrations, and a 45-page appendix containing an extensive bibliography. The index is comprehensive.
This demonstration of ether anesthesia by James W. Morton, a Boston dentist, occurred before Oliver Wendell Holmes applied the word "anesthesia" in this setting and
Siker ES. Robert C. Hinckley and the Recreation of the First Operation Under Ether. JAMA. 1994;271(20):1623-1624. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510440085042