This month, we’re reading The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science. It’s the new book by Sam Kean, who many might know as the author of the periodic table book The Disappearing Spoon (which we reviewed way back in 2010).

In what is now his sixth book, Kean tells true stories of what happens when ambition pushes otherwise rational people to cross ethical lines in the name of science. With wit and humour (where appropriate), Kean brings to life characters throughout history who found themselves on a slippery slope that took them from small concessions all the way to horrific acts.

We talk to Kean about not losing faith in science and discuss why stories of misconduct remain important even in an era plagued by mistrust in science.

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

If you’d like your own copy of The Icepick Surgeon, you can find it on or

Next time, my colleague and Chemistry World’s US correspondent Rebecca Trager will be hosting this book club for the first time, discussing Life as We Made It: How 50,000 Years of Human Innovation Refined – and Redefined – Nature. It’s the new book by evolutionary molecular biologist Beth Shapiro in which she reveals the surprisingly long history of human intervention in evolution through hunting, domestication, hybridisation, conservation and genetic modification.

If you, dear listener, have any thoughts on The Icepick Surgeon or know of a book you would like us to discuss in an upcoming book club, let us know in the comments below or tweet at us @ChemistryWorld.