Surgeon, scholar, best-selling author, Sherwin B. Nuland tells the strange story of Ignac Semmelweis with urgency and the insight gained from his own studies and clinical experience. Ignac Semmelweis is remembered for the now-commonplace notion that doctors must wash their hands before examining patients. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, however, this was a subversive idea. With deaths from childbed fever exploding, Semmelweis discovered that doctors themselves were spreading the disease. While his simple reforms worked immediately-childbed fever in Vienna all but disappeared-they brought down upon Semmelweis the wrath of the establishment, and led to his tragic end.