Spare Parts

Spare Parts by Paul Craddock

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Spare Parts:

The “spare” part is very misleading. Generally, the owner still needed them.

Quick synopsis:

The history of transplants from the first skin grafts to the present day.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

The first target of a transplant? The skin or specifically the nose. How? Oh, you just cut your arm and sew it to your face. No, I’m not kidding.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

List of animals whose blood you could transfuse and what ailment they would cure:

  • Cat – falling sickness and herpes
  • Ox – dysentery

You know what? I’m just going to stop there. Also, don’t ever do this.

My Take on Spare Parts:

I have to admit, I was wary about this book. I normally don’t make it very far into books on science before my eyes glaze over and I feel like I’m back in freshman year bio.

Well, I was dead wrong. I loved this book. Paul Craddock’s Spare Parts is more than just a history of medicine. It’s also part sociology, a little bit of religion, and not a small amount of comedy. The story chronicles all of the parts of science and medicine as they come together to finally bring us to present day (and possible future) transplants.

I can’t stress how many tones Craddock balances throughout the book. He gives you just enough science to understand what is happening without overdoing it. He praises many of his characters without shying away from the fact that some of them were really bad people otherwise. (Doctors could be narcissists? Who knew?!) Craddock plays it right down the middle and it makes for an easy and very entertaining experience.

Oh, and the poor animals. If you are squeamish…well you might been in for a rough time. In the end, it’s worth it, though.


Anyone will find something to love here. Read it. Buy it here!

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