“There have been hundreds of books published in the last decades on pain and its management, but none that combine memoir, scholarly research and journalistic reportage . . . A stellar example of literary nonfiction . . . You can chuckle over the aperçus of poets and philosophers like Aristotle, Coleridge, Dickinson, Sontag, and Foucault . . . become absorbed, as I was, in the fascinating struggle over the use of anesthesia . . . or play voyeur during absorbing clinical vignettes of ‘Pain as Disease.’ . . . Melanie Thernstrom is such an engaging and intelligent writer.

--Helen Epstein in The New York Times

Thernstrom’s descriptions . . . give a voice to millions of people whose lives are blackened by something that no one else can see.”

---Lucy Odling-Smee in Nature

“As the title indicates, Melanie Thernstrom’s landmark book is a near-encyclopedic coverage of pain. But it’s also the author’s tale of her 12-year physical struggle, a personal connection that makes this informative book deeply affecting. . . every word of Thernstrom’s investigations into this mysterious subject rings true. . . Thernstrom deftly delivers the staggering wealth of her complex findings and thoughts in short, almost haiku-like chapters. . . Her findings are as upsetting as they are morbidly fascinating.”

--Susan Miron in The Miami Herald

“The Pain Chronicles blends cutting edge research, cultural and medical history, and real people’s stories to make sense of the suffering.”

--O, The Oprah Magazine

“If readers one day look back on chronic pain with something like the horror elicited today by Fanny Burney’s description of un-anesthetized surgery, ”The Pain Chronicles" will help them to understand not just what chronic pain felt like but also how medical science made a start at eradicating it."

--Wes Davis in The Wall Street Journal

“She covers vast swaths of history, culture, religion and science in short, accessible and beautifully sequenced chapters. If you’re one of the 70 million Americans who suffers from chronic pain or has witnessed others’ suffering, this book offers an illuminating journey toward new vision and possible relief.”

--Joanne B. Mulcahy in The Oregonian

“An exquisite, meticulous history of medicine’s quest to alleviate pain . . . The personal chronicles lift this accomplished medical history to an astonishing record of courage and endurance . . . In these stories, there is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and hope for the rest of us.”

--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An intriguing investigation of chronic pain that combines expert opinion, philosophy and history with the author’s personal struggle . . . A rich melange of ideas and journalism.”

--Kirkus Reviews

“Chronic pain is the Wild West of medicine. In __The Pain Chronicles__, Melanie Thernstrom navigates this territory—its history, its evolution, and its always shifting frontiers—with keen intelligence and insight. She shares her own story in order to illuminate a narrative of pain that is becoming more and more a national narrative. Thernstrom never flinches in the face of a subject that is easily overlooked or judged by those for whom it is, ironically, too painful. This is stellar work.”

--Alice Sebold, author of __The Lovely Bones__ and Lucky

The Pain Chronicles is scholarly, lyrical, and humane, and will give tremendous comfort to those who are in pain and those who hope to understand them.”

--Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

“In this elegant, beautifully written book, Melanie Thernstrom trains her prodigious intellect on a subject at once utterly universal and deeply, poignantly personal. The Pain Chronicles is that rare hybrid: a meticulously researched and important work that is also a riveting page-turner. This is required reading for anyone who wants to understand an essential aspect of our humanity.”

--Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion: A Memoir

“An extraordinary tour of an important but often overlooked world—that of pain. Poignant and beautifully written, Melanie Thernstrom’s book weaves together history, literature, psychology, neuroscience, and a deeply moving personal story to create a marvelously wise and erudite work that can enlighten us all.

--Robert Klitzman, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University, and author of When Doctors Become Patients

“After going for a swim one day, Melanie Thernstrom emerged from the water with an ache in her neck and soon found herself plunging down a rabbit hole into the dark Wonderland known as chronic pain. Thernstrom takes us on a personal tour of this world, which has become a second home to her and millions of her fellow sufferers. Her superb book The Pain Chronicles is an essential resource for those similarly afflicted, their loved ones, and, indeed, anyone wanting to know more about the most primitive and powerful of all sensory experiences.”

--Frank T. Vertosick, Jr., M.D., FACS, author of Why We Hurt and When the Air Hits Your Brain

“Melanie Thernstrom conveys, indelibly, that pain is not pressed upon us; it’s in us, it’s intrinsic to our being. I find that insight, and this book, invaluable in helping me understand my pain and the world’s woe.”

--David Shields, author of Reality Hunger and The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

“__The Pain Chronicles __combines Melanie Thernstrom’s talents for both medical journalism and memoir. Whether she is unpacking the cultural history of pain or elucidating scientific studies, her limitless curiosity will engage and enlighten readers. Rarely has a topic of such sadness been made so compulsively readable.”

--Arthur W. Frank, author of At the Will of the Body and The Wounded Storyteller