Pikkukuvaa napsauttamalla pääset Google Booksiin.
Say Anarcha: A Young Woman, a Devious Surgeon, and the Harrowing Birth of… (2023)
Tekijä: J. C. Hallman
Ei tämänhetkisiä Keskustelu-viestiketjuja tästä kirjasta.
Thank you, Henry Holt & Company and LibraryThing, for this free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Excellent writing on a disturbing part of U. S. history.
In the introduction, the author describes this book as speculative nonfiction—meaning there is only so much information about Anarcha, so it’s not all absolute certainties. She’s not someone like Oscar Wilde, who left plenty of writing, including letters and manuscripts. With that in mind, it makes sense that this is speculative. Some historians might disapprove, but I like how the author imagines what Anarcha was thinking in certain situations.
A shower of meteors in 1833, when Anarcha was seven years old, helps set the stage. It was a bizarre occurrence that people didn't understand at the time. The book describes what life was like for slaves in Alabama.
We follow the doctor J. Marion Simms through his childhood and youth. As a student, he—like his buddies—was a mediocre white male. He was also small, unremarkable, and an unimpressive student. He wanted to become a doctor... because he wanted to impress the local doctor's daughter and marry her... but his father owed the same (wealthy) doctor money and disapproved.
I could write “WTF” in the margins on every page. Of course this book is profoundly disturbing.
It’s one thing to read a brief statement or briefly hear on a podcast that J. Marion Sims, long touted as “the father of modern gynecology: tortured Black women slaves by experimenting on them without anesthesia. That's what I had read/heard before reading this book. This of course goes into details. Whether you're reading about everyday slave life or about white male doctors and how they treat female patients, WTF.
Anarcha and Sims met while he was treating patients for malaria and she worked as his assistant. They met nine months later, and she was a patient—the overseer raped her and she became pregnant and had fistula. Sims soon examined two more patients, Betsey and Lucy, who also had fistula.
Before long, he expanded the Negro Hospital and was using it for his fistula experiments on Black women who were slaves. Not long after that, Anarcha learned that Dr. Nathan Harris bought her and the other women with fistula. Most slavers didn't want slaves who had fistula.
The book consistently shows Sims wanting to be famous—attempting to cure fistula was less about compassion for women and more about his own ambition. He struck me as having a Napoleon complex. Originally he wanted to avoid gynecology, but circumstances led him to experimenting on Black slaves who had fistula.
Some readers might think the book repetitive at times, but that’s only because it gives multiple perspectives in the same situations.
Dr. Nathan Bozeman—in 1878 described as “the greatest gynecologist in the world”—joined Sims’s practice in Alabama and figured out Sims’s quirks and flaws... and suspected him of spreading false rumors about his cure for fistula. Bozeman became his partner in 1853 and figured out Sims was deceitful about his alleged cure and that he didn’t give another doctor credit for inventing the sutures he was using. Bozeman was a much better doctor.
Not long after that falling out and Bozeman moving to Europe, Sims got approval and board members and opened a Women’s Hospital in NYC.
Sims, by the way, never did cure Anarcha of fistula, despite his claims to the contrary.
I’m glad the Blackwell sisters are mentioned quite a bit. Sims didn’t respect them (because... sexist) and didn’t let Elizabeth Blackwell have a high position in his Women’s Hospital, because he insisted in having male doctors. The Blackwells ended up starting their own hospital for women—which the ever-entitled Sims resented, accusing them of taking patients away from him. (Eye roll.)
An awful lot of women died after Sims operated on them. He even performed clitoridectomies—surgically removing the clitoris.
There’s a large cast of characters. I even learned new things about Abraham Lincoln. The journalist Mary Booth is brilliant, and I'd read a biography about her.
Sims and his fellow (white male) gynecologists working at the Women’s Hospital in NYC are cringy with disrespect toward women. The patronizing attitude toward the Board of Lady Managers combines with Sims’s dodgy approach to medicine—experimenting on women, practicing clitoridectomies, cutting up patients too much, and killing off patients with alarming frequency. I realize this book is set in the nineteenth century, but it justifies my belief that cisgender men should not be gynecologists.
Dr. Sims was, in short, an ambitious and deceitful white male supremacist—a Confederate, no less—with, as the saying goes, the confidence of a mediocre white male. He was really into controlling women. He owned slaves and operated on slaves without regard for their pain and comfort. Many of his contemporaries disapproved of his methods—for instance, accusing him of cutting up women too much (a valid complaint). Fortunately, people have generally stopped praising him, and the statue of him was torn down.
Before reading this book, I only knew of fistula as something that happens because of genital mutilation. Prolonged labor can also cause it—and children being married off and impregnated too young certainly doesn't help. The book has an excellent Afterword that covers hopeful fistula treatments—especially in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Uganda—in the 20th and 21st century. It covers the founding of Joy Village, a sanctuary (that I’ve previously heard of) for women who have been shunned for having fistula.
Read next: Women in White Coats by Olivia Campbell. Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo. The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in 19th Century America by G. J. Barker-Benfield.
Listen to: “Napoleon” by Ani DiFranco.
Text also comes on strong with gripping stories of how slaves were treated. Also some graphic imagery of medical experiments on slaves were conducted. If either of these topics are triggering then this book is not for you. Thankfully the meticulously researched work concludes with a long Afterword comparing how the same women’s health issues are being handled today in three countries in Africa.
I am grateful that we now have a fuller picture of the woman Anarcha, And I am happy to say her name. Dr. Sims, not so much - I would rather just forget him. Recommended for anyone in medical field wanting to understand the history of women’s health in America.
"In 1846, a young surgeon, J. Marion Sims ("The Father of Gynecology"), began several years of experimental surgeries on a young enslaved woman known as Anarcha ("The Mother of Gynecology"). This series of procedures-performed without anesthesia and resulting in Anarcha's so-called "cure"-forever altered the path of women's health. Despite brutal practices and failed techniques, Sims proclaimed himself the curer of obstetric fistula, a horrific condition that had stymied the medical world for centuries. Parlaying supposed success to the founding of a new hospital in New York City-where he conducted additional dangerous experiments on Irish women-Sims went on to a profitable career treating gentry and royalty in Europe, becoming one of the world's first celebrity surgeons. Medical text after medical text hailed Anarcha as a pivotal figure in the history of medicine, but little was recorded about the woman herself. Through extensive research, author J. C. Hallman has unearthed the first evidence ever foundof Anarcha's life that did not come from Sims's suspect reports. With incredible tenacity, Hallman traced Anarcha's path from her beginnings on a Southern plantation to the backyard clinic where she was subjected to scores of painful surgical experiments,to her years after in Richmond and New York City, and to her final resting place in a lonely Virginia forest. When Hallman first set out to find Anarcha, the world was just beginning to grapple with the history of white supremacy and its connection to racial health disparities exposed by COVID-19 and the disproportionate number of Black women who die while giving birth. In telling the stories of the "Mother" and "Father" of gynecology, Say Anarcha excavates the history of a heroic enslaved woman and deconstructs the biographical smokescreen of a surgeon whom history has falsely enshrined as a heroic pioneer. Kin in spirit to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Hallman's dual biographical narratives tell a single story that corrects errors calcified inhistory and illuminates the sacrifice of a young woman who changed the world only to be forgotten by it-until now"--
Kirjastojen kuvailuja ei löytynyt.
LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum
J. C. Hallman's book Say Anarcha: A Young Woman, a Devious Surgeon, and the Harrowing Birth of Modern Women's Health was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Amazon Kindle (0 painosta)
Audible (0 painosta)
CD Audiobook (0 painosta)
Project Gutenberg (0 painosta)
Google Books — Ladataan...
Oletko sinä tämä henkilö?
This book is difficult, incredibly well researched, and written with historical information and the story that may have been the basis of how these two lived. I highly recommend this and thank you for my ARC. While tough to read of the ruthlessness of slaves existence, Anarcha demonstrates strength and perseverance beyond measure. ( )