Renowned surgeon and historian Ira Rutkow has five decades of experience and has now written a remarkable history of surgery’s development—spanning the Stone Age to the present day—blending meticulous medical studies with lively and skillful storytelling. The new book is: "Empire of the Scalpel." There are not many events in life that can be as simultaneously life-frightening and life-saving as a surgical operation. Yet, in America, tens-of-millions of major surgical procedures are performed annually but few of us pause to consider the magnitude of these figures because we have such inherent confidence in surgeons. And, despite passionate debates about healthcare and the endless fascination with surgical procedures, most of us have no idea how surgeons came to be because the story of surgery has never been fully told. Ira Rutkow is a general surgeon and historian of American medicine. He also holds a doctorate of public health from Johns Hopkins University. I spoke with him recently about how he came to write the history of surgery.