SEMMELWEIS: the Women’s Doctor

The story of the life & work of the pioneering doctor who devoted his life to the healthcare of women: young new mothers & their newborns. Wash your hands! Comes from Semmelweis. He was largely ignored,
placed in an asylum and murdered.
“Valerio puts into practice… in Whitman’s words, ‘putting myself here and now to the ambushed womb of the shadows.’ ” Prof. E. Goldman
Anthony Valerio has written an eye-opening, riveting, and truly feminist book about a champion of suffering women, Dr. Semmelweis. It is heartbreaking to read of the enormous number of young women who died of childbed fever due to the unsanitary practices in hospitals of the 19th century. Semmelweis predated the discovery of germs as the source of infections, but he intuited the connection between unhealthy, dirty materials and the deaths of young mothers exposed to them through the unwashed hands of their examining doctors. So simple! Wash your hands! But, as Valerio vividly recounts, the resistance to Semmelweis’s discovery was enormous and fairly unrelenting, due in great part to the sheer arrogance of Alpha male doctors.
I read this powerful book in one sitting, and came away with great admiration for both its author and its subject. Thank you, Anthony Valerio, for shining light on a still too obscure hero, and thank you, Dr. Semmelweis, for your devotion to easing the suffering of women, and for honoring mothers, the givers of life.
Read this book, men and women alike! It is one of Valerio’s best!
–Professor Rebecca West, Emeritus, University of Chicago