The introduction of anaesthesia to Victorian Britain marked a defining moment between modern medicine and earlier practices. But although the benefits of surgical pain relief were indisputable, the process was in some ways strangely pradoxical. Inhaling gas brought patients to the verges of death to save them the agony of surgery. In the operating theatre surgeons were accustomed to terrified patients but not to the newly insensible body which still breathed and might struggle in a way that inhibited surgery. Throughout the late 1840s and 1850s debates focused on the viability of anaesthesia - were its risks greater than its benefits? That issue is the heart of this book; it continued to be debated whilst patients and doctors grappled with the realities of painless surgery, the exhilaration of ether, the efficacy of chloroform - not just to remove pain, but to kill. By examining complex patterns of innovation, reversals, debate and geographical difference, Stephanie Snow shows how anaesthesia became established as a routine part of British medicine.