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How to Remove a Brain… and other bizarre medical practices and procedures

•How was history changed by a single Soho water pump?

•Which condition was treated by trapping a child inside a tree trunk?

•Where is the soul found?

•How long does it take to digest chewing gum?

•What are hiccups for?

•Did the Gauls brush their teeth with urine?

•Does organ theft actually happen?

•Is it safe to fly with breast implants?

•Did Christopher Columbus import syphilis to Europe?

•Was King George V killed by his doctor, in order to meet The Times’ deadline?

Taking in everything from the outrageous (yes, Hitler was addicted to crystal meth) to the eye-watering (such as the renowned surgeon who accidentally cut off his patient’s left testicle) to the downright disgusting (like the ‘cure’ for toothache used by the Egyptians involving dead mouse paste), this book proves that medical science is not for the faint-hearted, lily-livered or weak-stomached!


“Hilarious, and sometimes stomach-turning, vignettes.”

New Scientist

"I never thought a book titled How to Remove a Brain would be so incredibly brilliant. David Haviland, I don't know you, or why you create books like this and Why Dogs Eat Poop, but you are clearly smarter than your maturity level."

Kick Ass Book Reviews

"I’m not going to lie, I read this book with unabashed joy, and in the process I truly feel I learned a lot. Granted, I’m not sure when the information I learned will ever come into play (How many times a day does Hitler’s potential Crystal Meth addiction come into play?) but it’s still all interesting to know, and certainly fun to read, thanks to Haviland’s ability to be both educational and whimsical at the exact same time."


"Any fan of the absurd and/or obscure is sure to delight in this strange (and slightly stomach-turning) book. I love trivia and this book delivers."

As the Page Turns

"A GP Christmas stocking must... From the ‘Wisdom of the Ancients' through to diseases, diagnoses and cures, this rip roaring journey through the wonders of medical advancement misses little. The content is without doubt one of the funniest recaps of the great, good and unbelievable of medicine. 9/10"


"Delightfully disgusting."


"Haviland once again proves ideally suited for this sort of writing. His style is simultaneously breezy and matter-of-fact, bringing each vile vignette to amusing, engaging life. And it's clear that this is a guy who does his homework. These subjects, as weird and disgusting as they might be, have been pretty thoroughly researched. It creates a reading experience that is both entertaining and - God help us - educational."

The Maine Edge

"Contains fascinating insights into medical history, in spite of its off-beat title."

Irish Medical Times

"A hilarious look at medicine throughout history... a painstakingly researched compendium of bizarre facts from the world of medicine, administered with a healthy dose of humour... a must for fans of the bizarre, and perfect prep for livening up dull dinner party conversations."


“An effortlessly readable introduction to the history and practice of medicine via its most fascinating and entertaining manifestations. Find out precisely how crocodile dung was used as a contraceptive, how long it takes to digest chewing gum, and the true purpose of hiccups… A surprisingly informative little book, based on solid research but written to entertain.”

The Good Book Guide

“Reading medical books usually fills me with dread (and I'm a doctor!) but this is one with a difference - it's hilarious! David has put together a compilation of interesting and intriguing facts that anyone would find hard not to like. I keep finding myself having to read that little bit more each time I put it down! If you've ever wondered why so many murderers are doctors or how frequently a person can vomit in a twelve-hour period then this book has the answer! I now know if people can grow horns, which surgeon accidentally cut off his patient's testicle (ouch!) and why pig farmers are more likely to have their appendixes removed. My pub conversations are going to be so much better! This book is a must for anyone with a thirst for funny and far-reaching medical anecdotes. I'm hooked!”

Dr Ranj - media medic

“Provides answers to many burning questions… It proves that medical science is not for the lily-livered.”

BMA News

Featured in the Mail on Sunday, 30th September 2012.

Mail on Sunday

“Very interesting and a little gross at times.”

Of Beauty and Nothingness

“Love the science, love the history.  A fun/interesting/trivia filled read.  I am a professional scientist, working in healthcare and I am not at all ashamed to admit I learned several things from this book which I'd never heard before (like the origin of the word 'toady' ). Cool stuff.”

Non-Stop Reader

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's basically a collection of cool/interesting/funny medical anecdotes. Loved the brief stories about medicine throughout history, and all the weird (and gross) things that have been done throughout time and across many different cultures. The stories were brief enough to relay information without overloading you on medical terminology, so even those not necessarily interested in science and medicine will learn something and have fun with it. It's just an all-around fun book, that will teach you some new and interesting facts.”

The Nerd Herd

"This is a wonderful book devoted to dragging up every weird and wacky idea in medical science from times ancient to present. Well written with a pen dipped in sarcasm, you'll find yourself laughing and groaning.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!"

Ellen Whyte

“A fun and crazy book… If you are looking for something different, you got it! I loved it, different, strange, you won't find this anywhere else!”

Library Thing

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. A must for information gatherers.”


“Once you pick it up it is hard to put it down.”

Renwick McConaghy – Reviewer

“I loved this book. I love this book. I’m going to read it again one day. Why? Because I forgot some things, because it is history (and I LOVE all things history), and because it makes for a great conversation starter. Even if people might look at you a little bit sideways!”

Adventures with Words

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