He was called 'that glorious man of new miracles'...'an angel of paradise, sent by God to earth for the health and preservation of human life'. He also was accused of being a charlatan and a dangerous quack, and he served time in prison for poisoning his patients. It was from his cell that this Renaissance surgeon issued an audacious challenge: 'that there be consigned to me alone twenty - five sick people...and an equal number with similar infirmities to all the physicians of Milan. If I don't cure my patients more quickly and better than they do theirs, I'm willing to be banished forever from the city'. Leading historian and Pulitzer - nominated author William Eamon, in his thoroughly researched narrative history, ''''The Professor of Secrets'''', evokes the world of Renaissance medicine to tell the stranger - than - fiction tale of surgeon Leonardo Fioravanti. The doctor's fascinating story opens a window onto the scientific and medical world of the late Renaissance - a time when the next devastating plague was just a flea bite away. When barber surgeons frequently bled their patients along with giving them a shave. When one could buy a ticket to view a public dissection of a human body. And when doctors, according to Eamon, practiced a 'chemistry - kit - in - the - basement' style of science. As Dava Sobel's bestselling ''''Galileo's Daughter'''' intimately brings to life, through letters, the world of an astronomer and his troubles with the Church, so The Professor of Secrets reconstructs a life lost to history and tells an alternative story of the Scientific Revolution - speaking through the experiences of a man who lived on the margins of great events and witnessed them with a penetrating vision. From charlatans selling their wares in the streets, to horrifying cures and treatments, to Fioravanti's 'miraculous' contributions to medicine at the time, Eamon points up the un - romanticised realities of life during the Renaissance. And he shows us that this first 'celebrity' physician is still relevant today, as our own modern charlatans - TV doctors and fad - diet hawkers - push upon us the next latest and greatest medicines and cures.