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  • The Facemaker

  • One Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I
  • By: Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Narrated by: Daniel Gillies
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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The Facemaker

By: Lindsey Fitzharris
Narrated by: Daniel Gillies
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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

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 caused carnage on an industrial scale and the nature of trench warfare meant that thousands sustained facial injuries. In The Facemaker, award-winning historian Lindsey Fitzharris tells the true story of the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to restoring the faces of a brutalised generation.

Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, established one of the world's first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of facial differences, Gillies restored not just faces, but identities and spirits.

The Facemaker places Gillies's ingenious surgical innovations alongside the dramatic stories of soldiers whose lives were wrecked and repaired. The result is a vivid account of how medicine and art can merge and of what courage and imagination can accomplish in the presence of relentless horror.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2022 Lindsey Fitzharris (P)2022 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Facemaker

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A wonderful book and my best book of 2022…

I preordered this book ages ago as I’ve read quite a lot of books surrounding the Great War recently and I’ve not been disappointed. The most outstanding thing I took from this book was the prejudice the returning disfigured men faced when they came home. So so sad. A land fit for hero’s indeed.

All the medical staff in this book especially Harold Gillies are in my eyes are outstanding and gave the men a chance to live a life of sorts as some had lost everything including their faces. All because a stupid useless war was being fought … humans never learn!

The moral shown by the men while they waited to get surgery was humbling and the comradeship they had for one another actually had me in tears at one point. We are given the back stories to some of the men and how they came to be injured, we learn about the effects of weapons on the body/face which includes chemicals. The tactics employed by the enemy which includes the sinking of medical ships and a back story of a nurse who had survived the sinking of the Titanic.

I could go on but honestly spend a credit and I guarantee you will love this book.

Thank you Lindsay Fitzharris for bringing Harold Gillies into my life and Daniel Gillies for narrating in such a clear precise way.

Simply excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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The roots of plastic surgery

This is story of Harold Gillies and his amazing determination to reconstruct the terrible facial wounds of injured servicemen during and after the First World War. It is also the story of the dentist and others who helped, and the bravery of the men themselves.

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Inspirational

Remarkable story and great account. US author and narrator, with famous surname, irritating that the medical and titles pronunciation is so incorrect. But very good

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Unexpectedly brilliant

Quite graphic descriptions of injuries you know happened but cannot be told. An interesting incite into the story not told in the history books. Highly recommended if you are interested in WW1.

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Great piece of medical history

Loved it! Hooked from start to finish. A great story of a true surgical pioneer3

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Local hospital commemoration.

Noticed that a local hospital had a Gillies ward. (Nottingham City Hospital. ) Now I know where the name came from. What an interesting story about a surgical pioneer.

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Fantastic

A truly wonderful history of plastic surgery. The Facemakers of WWI have long been of interest to me as their work under such conditions was truly remarkable. So when I saw that Lindsey Fitzharris (who wrote a fantastic book on Joseph Lister and his development of antiseptic techniques), I knew I just had to read it.

This book is brilliant. It doesn't shy away from the horrors of the battlefield; the descriptions of the injuries suffered are detailed but sensitively portrayed to give you that sense of awe when Howard Gillies and his team manage to give them back their lives. Stories of successes and failures show just how much development was made in this field in such a short time. The author discusses the work of others in the field and how they interacted - sometimes with benefits and others not.

I listened to the Audible narration of this book, fantastically narrated by Gillies' great-great-great-grandson, Daniel. I can highly recommend the audiobook as the narration is spot on and a PDF of the images included in the book are also available.

I genuinely enjoyed this book, the way it takes you from the horrors suffered by the patients but then gives you the joy that they were restored and given back their lives. A truly wonderful account of this branch of surgery and this period of history.

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An amazing story. The truth is better than fiction

I don't know how Dr Linsey Fitzharris does it. The Butchering Art was no fluke. This book is the amazing telling of a story I'd never had thought I'd have an interest. Listened to it over 3 days. At times horrific. At times beautiful. Wonderful.

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Very engaging and interesting

A fascinating book, focusing mainly on the surgery, but also with a few forays into relevant and equally interesting side-issues. I would recommend it - there aren’t many audiobooks that keep me up at night, wanting to listen to more, but this one did.

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Fantastic Book

A fascinating subject, singing the praises of an incredible man. Extremely well written and a pleasure to listen to. Highly recommend.

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  • Alison
  • 10-07-22

A perfect slice of fascinating history

This is my favorite piece of nonfiction in a long time. Lindsay Fitzharris has created just the right mix of history and science, horror and redemption, and personal stories of real lives forever changed. The narrator gets it just right too. So good.