Henry Jay Przybylo

Counting Backwards

A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesia

W. W. Norton 2017

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in MedicineNew Books in ScienceNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network March 7, 2018 Jeremy Corr

For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous...

For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous first demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 to today’s routine procedures that controls anxiety, memory formation, pain relief, and more, anesthesia has come a long way. But it remains one of the most extraordinary, unexplored corners of the medical world.

In Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia (W. W. Norton and Company, 2017), Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo—a pediatric anesthesiologist with more than thirty years of experience—delivers an unforgettable account of the procedures, daily dramas, and fundamental mysteries. Przybylo has administered anesthesia more than 30,000 times in his career—erasing consciousness, denying memory, and immobilizing the body, and then reversing all of these effects—on newborn babies, screaming toddlers, sullen teenagers, even a gorilla. With compassion and candor, he weaves his experiences into an intimate exploration of the nature of consciousness, the politics of pain relief, and the wonder of modern medicine.


Jeremy Corr is the co-host of the hit Fixing Healthcare podcast along with industry thought leader Dr. Robert Pearl. A University of Iowa history alumnus, Jeremy is curious and passionate about all things healthcare, which means he’s always up for a good discussion! Reach him at [email protected]

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