A surprising investigation of a scientific instrument long at the pulse of medicine. This book explores the colorful past, present, and future of an instrument that is, quite literally, close to our hearts. The stethoscope has become the symbol of medicine itself—how did this come to be? What makes the stethoscope such a familiar yet charismatic object? Drawing from a range of fields including history, anthropology, science, technology, and sound studies, the book illustrates the variety of roles the stethoscope has played over time. It shows that the stethoscope is not, and has never been, a single entity. It is used to a variety of ends, serves several purposes, and is open to many interpretations. This variability is the key to the stethoscope’s enduring presence in the medical and popular imagination.