Here’s something you probably didn’t learn in your school history classes: The great Thomas Edison and his colleagues had a hand in the killing of 44 dogs, six calves and two horses in their attempt to portray alternating current technology as inherently more dangerous than the direct current technology that Edison pioneered.
This slaughter is one of the many tales that Sam Kean relates in “The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science.”
“The Icepick Surgeon” is Kean’s sixth book. His previous work examined the entertaining and sometimes macabre side of science. Now he gives us wickedness. “This book explores what pushes men and women to cross the line and commit crimes and misdeeds in the name of science,” he writes, explaining that “sometimes obsession grips them. They turn things inside out and twist what’s normally a noble pursuit into something dark.”