Reviews

Advanced praise

“How excellent that the Robert White papers landed in the lap of Brandy Schillace. She has taken a most bizarre and ethically complex episode in the history of medicine and crafted from it a narrative that is nuanced, informed, and almost impossible to stop reading. I swear to you, if you have a brain inside your head (or anywhere else), you will find this book fascinating.”
— Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author of Stiff  

“An engrossing tale about one man’s quest to obtain immortality by transplanting the human soul. Schillace is a first-rate historian with the perceptive eye of a storyteller. I tore through this book, and so will you.”
— Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, New York Times bestselling author of The Butchering Art

“A true-life story even more dark and twisted than the X-Files case it inspired. Brandy Schillace captures the brilliant, disturbing, and fascinating character of Dr. Robert White, determined head transplanter. In the process, she not only exposes scenes of medical experimentation straight out of a horror film but takes us on a socio-political journey through the 20th century, raising questions along the way about life, death, and the nature of the soul itself. Remarkable.”
— Frank Spotnitz, Emmy Award-winning writer, and producer of The X-Files

“Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher is a rollicking, irresistible tale of doctors playing God, science facing off with ideology, and fate being sorely tempted at every turn — with the future of medicine and the nature of the human soul hanging in the balance.”
— Robert Kolker, New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road

“Brandy Schillace tells a riveting, page-turning true story, resurrecting one of the most fascinating and largely forgotten sagas in the history of medicine. She reveals Dr. Robert White in all his strange, complicated brilliance: A pious, ambitious, egotistical innovator who was willing to challenge almost any norm—including the definition of life itself—in his quest to develop a mind-bending and potentially world-changing new surgical procedure. This heartfelt, deeply researched book is a work of history, but it raises fundamental moral and ethical questions which will likely demand answers in the near future.”
— Luke Dittrich, New York Times bestselling author of Patient H.M.

“Brandy Schillace weaves together the astonishing history of Dr. Robert White, the brilliant neurosurgeon who expertly poked and prodded the ultimate question with a bloody, gloved hand–can the soul be transplanted? Deftly written and expertly drawn, Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher examine the triumphs with an unwavering eye (yes, the monkey head transplant is a success), and yet smartly doesn’t shy away from the inglorious moments in research history, including the exploitation of black patients and animal cruelty. When it comes to pushing the boundaries of medical ingenuity, readers will be profoundly affected by the ultimate questions presented by Schillace: not just “can we do this?” but more importantly, “should we?”
— Dr. Lydia Kang, coauthor of Quackery