Maurice Edmond Müller—In His Own Words

New Maurice Edmond Müller biography marks AO’s 60th anniversary

17 July 2018

An idea that began with a simple “Why not?” came to life on Friday in Basel, with the AO Foundation Trustees’ official launch of a book detailing AO founding father Maurice Edmond Müller’s legacy of innovation in trauma surgery and medical education.

Published by the AO Foundation with support from the AO Strategy Fund and written by AO Past President and honorary member Dr Joseph Schatzker, the publication of 'Maurice Edmond Müller—In His Own Words' marks the AO’s 60-year anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Müller’s birth. The book was presented in hard cover format as a gift to the AO Foundation Trustees at their annual meeting in Basel, as well as to important libraries and learning institutions in Switzerland, and is available to download.

Müller (1918–2008) developed the theory of osteosynthesis and created methods and designed instruments for application in surgery, as well as pioneering the design and use of total hip replacement. In fact, in February 1961, Müller implanted a hip of his own design—the first total hip replacement in Europe. In 2002, International Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology (SICOT) named him Orthopaedic Surgeon of the Century.

Schatzker first met Müller in 1965, just seven years after Müller and colleagues Robert Schneider, Hans Willenegger, Martin Allgöwer, and nine others founded the AO. Schatzker was a surgery resident in Toronto, Canada, and Müller was an invited guest professor. Because he spoke German fluently, Schatzker was selected to meet Müller at the airport and facilitate his week-long stay in Toronto.

Going straight to the source

Early in their 44-year association—which evolved into a friendship—Schatzker became the German-to-English translator of the first and second editions of the Manual of Internal Fixation, the book explaining the AO principles and methods. He worked closely with Müller on a number of projects, became an AO member in 1972, and taught for many years at the AO courses in Davos. By the 1990s, as Müller’s career was coming to a close, it occurred to Schatzker that he should write a biography of his long-time friend. Very often, he noted, biographies are written after their subjects have died.

“I thought, ‘Why not get it from the man himself?’” And that’s just what Schatzker did.

Between December 2000 and July 2004, Schatzker and Müller met regularly to discuss Müller’s life and career, which led to 43 audio cassettes comprising 150 hours of recorded material that became the basis for Maurice Edmond Müller—In His Own Words. The book preserves the interview format, with Müller responding to Schatzker’s questions. The interviews, conducted in German and translated by Schatzker, were edited to arrange the material in chronological order and eliminate repetition, and the story is told in Müller’s own words.


“The genius and creativity of Maurice Müller—surgeon, scientist and medical entrepreneur—forever changed how fractures are treated and joints reconstructed. Müller’s methods are now the standard of care throughout the world. They have brought healing and comfort to hundreds of thousands of patients.”

Dr Joseph Schatzker

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