Joe McGovern
May 30, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sam Kean
publisher
Little, Brown and Company
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

After tackling DNA and the periodic table in his previous books, Kean has moved on to the human brain, which he dissects via dozens of vivid anecdotes, beginning with one about the two titular barber-surgeons who operated on Henri II of France after the king’s jousting accident in 1559. If Kean’s patented hipster style sometimes borders on annoying, his subtle meta touches are a heady delight — from the picture puzzles that start each chapter to his description of the brain as scoopable, ”like ripe avocado,” before a section on cannibalism. That’s an image you won’t soon forget. A-

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