Ulster has produced an impressive number of surgeons who have gained world-wide renown. None has been more celebrated, or more deserving of a biography than Sir Ian Fraser whose life spanned almost the whole of the 20th century. Following a brillant university career, Fraser's training occupied most of the inter-war years. As with most innovatory surgeons, his career really flourished in war-time conditions. During the Second World War, he was at the forefront of the early field trials of a drug that would benefit the whole of mankind – penecillin – first, in the crucial allied victory in North Africa and then in Italy. For the courage and skill he consistently showed during during these campaigns, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. In 1945 came his timely appointment to the surgical staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast, in which he was to serve with equal distinction until his retirement in 1966. Richard Clarke's sympathetic, insightful and not uncritical biography could only have been written by someone who was taught by Fraser and who then worked alongside him. The outcome is a fascinating, and informed overall view of Sir Ian Fraser, the surgeon, the teacher, the writer and, above all, the man.