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BOOK OF THE MONTH
MY LIFE IN FULL
Indra K. Nooyi
699

An intimate and powerful memoir by the trailblazing former CEO of PepsiCo

For...(+)

Author Spotlight

John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. After graduating from ...(+)

  John Grisham  
 
 
 
Do No Harm
Henry Marsh

Classification : Health, Diet & Fitness
Pub Date : Mar 15, 2014
Imprint : Weidenfeld & Nicholson
Page Extent : 288
Binding : HB
ISBN : 9781780225920
Price : 599

About the book
What is it really like to be a brain surgeon, to hold someone's life in your hands, to drill down into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong?In this powerful, gripping and brutally honest account, one of the country's top neurosurgeons reveals what it is to play god in the face of the life-and-death situations he encounters daily. Henry Marsh gives a rare insight into the intense drama of the operating theatre, the chaos and confusion of a modern hospital, the exquisite complexity of the human brain, and the blunt instrument that is surgeon's knife by comparison.In neurosurgery, the doctor's oath to 'do no harm' holds a bitter irony, as all operations on the brain carry grave risks. This book is about the agonising human dilemmas behind every operation - for the patient, their families and for the surgeon. It is also a deeply personal account - an education in Marsh's own fallibility, the limitations of medicine, the corrupting influence of power, and, above all, the universal need for hope when faced with life's most difficult decisions.

Read Review   Want to write a review?
This exhilarating and candid memoir of a neurosurgeon ... conveys the excitement and awful responsibility of operating on the centre of human thought, emotion and identity on a daily basis. If Marsh is even half as good a surgeon as he is a writer, the NHS should be very sorry indeed that he retired this year.
A compelling, refreshing and honest read about the certainties of youth taken over by the regrets and doubts of old age, NHS bureaucracy and a passion for brain surgery... Hope is what shines through in this book. That, and a man's compassion and continued love affair with brain surgery
Beautifully written, recklessly honest and morally complex. Marsh writes superbly about the intricacies of the human body, about the sometimes conflicting impulses of professional ambition and human need, and about the difficulty of talking honestly to patients and their families in times of medical crisis. These 'Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery' present a compelling argument about the moral dimension of surgical intervention and build to a touching and rueful self-portrait
This book is an eye-opening, jaw-dropping read through the trials and tribulations of the author Henry Marsh's career as a brain surgeon ... It brought me to tears to think of how lonely the life of a brain surgeon can be... Students, nurses doctors, pick this book up and enjoy the ride!
An arrestingly candid memoir by a consultant surgeon that explores with bracing honesty the view from the other end of the knife
This is one of the most compelling and life-affirming books to have been published all year. Henry Marsh is a top brain surgeon and, it turns out, an exquisite writer. Taking us from what it's like to feel someone's brain in your hands to the experience of telling a loved one what is going on in a patient's psyche, it lets us in on both the physical mysteries and the emotional complexities of brain surgery. It reads like a thriller rather than a text book and it's an extraordinary look at what makes us human.'
Riveting ... extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening ... [Marsh] writes with uncommon power and frankness. And while his book may unsettle readers ... it will at the same time leave them with a searing appreciation of the wonders of the human body, and gratitude that there are surgeons like Dr Marsh using their hard-won expertise to save and repair lives'
Brain surgeon Henry Marsh's memoir is an honest, sometimes alarming and always compelling account of his working life and the difficulties doctors face
If someone is going to saw your head open, just hope it is the eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who writes powerfully here of his own experiences... he comes across as a man of deep insight and great compassion. Indeed, some of the most moving passages in the bookare when he comes face to face with his 'mistakes'. Quite brilliant
Incredibly absorbing... an astonishingly candid insight
Marsh's descriptions of the practice of surgery (he likens its intricacy to bomb disposal) are poetic and addictive. He is pleasing if grouchy company, ultimately appearing superhuman even as he sets out to demystify the job
No amount of squeamishness could dim the power of Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, a remarkable account of what it feels like to be a neurosurgeon. Marsh - one Britain's most distinguished brain surgeons - admits that he was drawn to his field by its "controlled, altruistic, violence". Told in a series of vignettes, his memoir is a similar mix of hot and cold, from the seemingly chilly detachment needed to shield himself from the terrible consequences of inevitable mistakes, to barely concealed rage at increasing managerialism in the NHS. This wonderfully humane and unsentimental piece of writing reveals a writer who wields the pen as effectively as the scalpel
Breathtaking. The title is ironic: Marsh, uncharacteristically for a medical man, reveals that the traditional and estimable doctors' oath to "do no harm" is an unachievable counsel of perfection - certainly in his field - and he writes accessibly for non-scientists
In this autopsy of an obsession, Henry Marsh seeks to explain how he hates cutting into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and music but just can't stop himself. So elegantly written it is little wonder some say that in Mr Marsh neurosurgery has found its Boswell
A vivid, impatient, rigorously detailed book about his life as a brain surgeon. He's candid about surgical catastrophe, outraged by the NHS's culture of managerialism, tender in the face of his patients' distress and stoicism
An enthralling, moving memoir about the massive pressures of a brain surgeon's life
There can seldom have been a more candid account of a life's-worth of dangerous surgery... Henry Marsh spares us nothing of his experiences in the theatre... this unique and gripping story of a hero of the operating theater
What readers and critics have warmed to so much in Marsh's account of life as a neurosurgeon isn't just the details of crucial operations, but his disarming honesty about his "failures", ... simply because he is human
An astonishing memoir, a searingly honest book from a senior doctor that offers intense insights into life and death. With candour and compassion, Marsh draws readers into agonising decisions over delicate, microscopic surgery that he compares with bomb disposal work, such are the catastrophic consequences of mistakes. A brilliant and unforgettable work, it fully deserves all the praise... an extraordinary work raises issues of profound political and societal importance that are the legacy of an aging society, twisted attitudes to disability and the skills of those such as the author. More politicians should follow the Prime Minister's lead by reading this book; some might even be spurred into challenging a debate suffering severe paralysis. "Do no harm" is a good mantra for politicians as well as physicians
Fascinating insight into what it's like to play God, and Marsh is unflinchingly honest, near uncomfortably so on occasion about the highs and low that unfurl when holding not just another human being's life, but their very consciousness, in his hands
I really liked Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. It's a book about being a brain surgeon. But it's also one of the best books I've ever read about how obsession works. At the start Marsh says: 'I often cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing.' He hates doing it but feels compelled to do it. It hurts his marriage. It's like a book about a man having an affair - with brain surgery
When a book opens like this: "I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing" - you can't let it go, you have to read on, don't you? ... I trust completely the skills of those who practise [brain surgery], and tend to forget the human element, which is failures, misunderstandings, mistakes, luck and bad luck, but also the non-professional, everyday life that they have. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh reveals all of this, in the midst of life-threatening situations, and that's one reason to read it; true honesty in an unexpected place. But there are plenty of others
[Marsh] does brain and spinal cord surgery and a daily basis, and this account of his working life gives an extraordinary insight into his own thought processes as well as into the world of neurosurgical briefing meetings and hospital politics. Each chapter's starting point is a real-life case study, and the book conveys both an explorer's fascination with the human brain and the contradictory emotional demands of dispassionate observation and compassion required of a brain surgeon
Do No Harm is [Marsh's] restless, unflinching memoir on the pain and exhilaration of his profession. It's told with searing candour... The lean, unadorned prose Marsh deploys to describe these every day details matches his soul-baring honesty... The book's daunting tenor is frequently punctuated by Marsh's scathingly black humour... It is unprecedented for a neurosurgeon to prise open their profession with such uncompromising frankness. Marsh's achievement is to humanise the complexities of neurosurgery by fearlessly exposing his own frailties
An excellent book... Marsh is clearly an extraordinarily nice individual... It is a wonderful read, essential for anyone curious about what it's really like to be a surgeon
I found this book a fascinating read and commend it. As far as I can discover, this is the first account of life by a surgeon working in today's health service
Henry Marsh's unflinchingly honest and profoundly moving memoir... illuminates the life-and-death decisions neurosurgeons wrestle with daily, the intricate marvels of the brain's anatomy, the joys and scourges of technological advances, the frustrations of working in a cash-starved NHS and all the conflicting emotions these struggles evoke... Marsh conveys his awe of the human body with literary flair... courageous and inspirational
Henry Marsh is a neurosurgical consultant in a London teaching hospital, and his memoir, Do No Harm, offers an astonishing glimpse into this stressful career... The case histories are fascinating, but more importantly they are full of humanity. Marsh is the most honest author I've ever come across with regard to his own failings... This is a wonderful book, passionate and frank. If Marsh is even a tenth as good a neurosurgeon as he is a writer, I'd let him open my skull any time
Why has no one ever written a book like this before? It simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self doubt, of a phenomenal neurosurgeon who has been at the height of his specialism for decades and now has chosen with retirement looming to write an honest book. Why haven't more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty?... Well, thank God for Henry Marsh... One of the finest admissions to emerge in this phenomenal book is that of every surgeon's dilemma... what a bloody, splendid book: commas optional
Do No Harm is in many respects a self-lacerating document: by and large, it contains stories not of triumph, or the author's skill and expertise, but of the emotional and psychological toll exacted when things go horribly wrong... His understanding of the nature of suffering is deep and personal
Brain surgeons such as Henry Marsh, the author of this startling and moving memoir, have to live breathe, operate and make urgent decisions in full awareness of a terrible dilemma: if they open the skull they might save the patient's life, but a slip of the scalpel can cause appalling disability which, as Marsh puts it, can be much worse than death... It's this disarming candour that makes the book such an enthralling read... fascinating
Marsh offers us a memoir of startling honesty... Marsh's frankness speaks of a reflective character who found an unconventional route to his career... Thirty years on he remains invigorated by the job - part Sherlock Holmes in diagnosis, part Action Man in theatre. At times he's positively gleeful, and we share his excitement as he puts us in his surgeon's shoes and guides us through the hidden topography of the brain
[Henry Marsh] has you on the edge of your seat... Henry Marsh's patients are living, individual people - he makes us feel we know them... Doctors seldom talk to us as frankly and freely as Mr Marsh. In the select band of those who take on this daily dance with high anxiety he must, I think, be a great man
Marsh has written a book about a love affair, and one cannot help feeling similarly smitten ... 'Elegant, delicate, dangerous and full of profound meaning'. All four of those epithets might describe this book
This is a beautifully written, humane, moving and darkly funny memoir by a senior consultant neuro-surgeon at St George's Hospital, Tooting... I was fascinated by this frank view of life on the other side of the anaesthetic mist. It takes us deep into both the human brain and the entrails of the NHS, and it is sometimes hard to know which is the more alarming
A mesmerising, at times painful journey through a neurosurgeon's extraordinary career. As delicate as he can be brutal, Marsh's account of himself if always honest and moving. Human frailty at its strongest.
As gripping and engrossing as the best medical drama, only with the added piquancy of being entirely true, this compelling account of what it's really like to be a brain surgeon will have you on the edge of your sunlounger
Neurosurgery has met its Boswell in Henry Marsh. Painfully honest about the mistakes that can 'wreck' a brain, exquisitely attuned to the tense and transient bond between doctor and patient, and hilariously impatient of hospital management, Marsh draws us deep into medicine's most difficult art and lifts our spirits. It's a superb achievement
Marsh's descriptions of the practice of surgery (he likens its intricacy to bomb disposal) are poetic and addictive. He is pleasing if grouchy company, ultimately appearing superhuman even as he sets out to demystify the job
A thrilling, often terrifying, strangely funny memoir by a neurosurgeon about the lives he has saved, and the lives he has irrevocably wrecked - a poignant, thoughtful exploration of the fragility of human life and intellect, and the frailty and miracles of medicine
No amount of squeamishness could dim the power of Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, a remarkable account of what it feels like to be a neurosurgeon. Marsh - one Britain's most distinguished brain surgeons - admits that he was drawn to his field by its "controlled, altruistic, violence". Told in a series of vignettes, his memoir is a similar mix of hot and cold, from the seemingly chilly detachment needed to shield himself from the terrible consequences of inevitable mistakes, to barely concealed rage at increasing managerialism in the NHS. This wonderfully humane and unsentimental piece of writing reveals a writer who wields the pen as effectively as the scalpel
Breathtaking. The title is ironic: Marsh, uncharacteristically for a medical man, reveals that the traditional and estimable doctors' oath to "do no harm" is an unachievable counsel of perfection - certainly in his field - and he writes accessibly for non-scientists
In this autopsy of an obsession, Henry Marsh seeks to explain how he hates cutting into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and music but just can't stop himself. So elegantly written it is little wonder some say that in Mr Marsh neurosurgery has found its Boswell
A vivid, impatient, rigorously detailed book about his life as a brain surgeon. He's candid about surgical catastrophe, outraged by the NHS's culture of managerialism, tender in the face of his patients' distress and stoicism
This is a brilliantly told account of a career as a neurological consultant that illustrates the intricacies of surgery and the complexities of making life and death decisions on a daily basis. Marsh - who wrote it as he was approaching retirement - has a gift for storytelling as he vividly talks us through past operations and gives an animated account of cutting into heads and sucking away pieces of tumours. His appreciation of his human fallibility, along with the numerous scary moments when procedures go wrong and surgical instruments fail, make this an admirable, educational and thrilling read
A nerve-jangling and scarily honest dissection of life as a neurosurgeon. Full of compassion for his patients, Marsh captures the catastrophic risk of the slightest slip of the scalpel
Expert, humble and profoundly human
Henry Marsh has clearly enjoyed the satisfaction of the technical skill involved in removing the rumour, and restoring the sick.
What he captures superbly is the obsessive nature of his job.
An enthralling, moving memoir about the massive pressure's of a brain surgeon's life
Marsh has nothing to hide...He tries not to extinguish hope when there is barely any, and not to be forced to operate when the outlook is futile. He does not always succeed and the astonishing openness of his confessions is moving.
There can seldom have been a more candid account of a life's-worth of dangerous surgery... Henry Marsh spares us nothing of his experiences in the theatre... this unique and gripping story of a hero of the operating theater
A strikingly honest and humane account of what it means to hold the power of life and death in your hands...The book is elegant, edifying and necessary.
What readers and critics have warmed to so much in Marsh's account of life as a neurosurgeon isn't just the details of crucial operations, but his disarming honesty about his "failures", ... simply because he is human
An astonishing memoir, a searingly honest book from a senior doctor that offers intense insights into life and death. With candour and compassion, Marsh draws readers into agonising decisions over delicate, microscopic surgery that he compares with bomb disposal work, such are the catastrophic consequences of mistakes. A brilliant and unforgettable work, it fully deserves all the praise... an extraordinary work raises issues of profound political and societal importance that are the legacy of an aging society, twisted attitudes to disability and the skills of those such as the author. More politicians should follow the Prime Minister's lead by reading this book; some might even be spurred into challenging a debate suffering severe paralysis. "Do no harm" is a good mantra for politicians as well as physicians
Dreamy and daring, many stories are moving enough to raise tears, and a select few would make even a Dalek squeamish
This is a beautifully written, humane, moving and darkly funny memoir... it takes us deep into both the human brain and the entrails of the NHS, and it is sometimes hard to know which is the more alarming
Fascinating insight into what it's like to play God, and Marsh is unflinchingly honest, near uncomfortably so on occasion about the highs and low that unfurl when holding not just another human being's life, but their very consciousness, in his hands
An honest, humble and occasionally dramatic account... [Marsh] comes across as a reflective and sensitive man, intensely involved in his work and clearly needing to think and write about the ethical aspects of what he does
Candid and elegantly written
Easily the most enthralling book of 2014, it is also scathing, searing and sensitive, proving that Marsh is as skilful with the written word as he is with the scalpel
A fascinating look inside the head of a man whose job it is to fiddle around in ours. He acknowledges that surgeons are arrogant, that they play God, but that they are also afflicted by despair, sorrow and doubt. He is scathing on NHS bureaucracy and his picture of doctors doing their best but basically flailing in the dark made me respect the profession more
An elegant series of meditations at the closing of a long career. Many of the stories are moving enough to raise tears, but at the heart this is a book about wisdom and experience
I really liked Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. It's a book about being a brain surgeon. But it's also one of the best books I've ever read about how obsession works. At the start Marsh says: 'I often cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing.' He hates doing it but feels compelled to do it. It hurts his marriage. It's like a book about a man having an affair - with brain surgery
When a book opens like this: "I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing" - you can't let it go, you have to read on, don't you? ... I trust completely the skills of those who practise [brain surgery], and tend to forget the human element, which is failures, misunderstandings, mistakes, luck and bad luck, but also the non-professional, everyday life that they have. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh reveals all of this, in the midst of life-threatening situations, and that's one reason to read it; true honesty in an unexpected place. But there are plenty of others
[Marsh] does brain and spinal cord surgery and a daily basis, and this account of his working life gives an extraordinary insight into his own thought processes as well as into the world of neurosurgical briefing meetings and hospital politics. Each chapter's starting point is a real-life case study, and the book conveys both an explorer's fascination with the human brain and the contradictory emotional demands of dispassionate observation and compassion required of a brain surgeon
Elegantly written and heart-searingly truthful
Do No Harm is [Marsh's] restless, unflinching memoir on the pain and exhilaration of his profession. It's told with searing candour... The lean, unadorned prose Marsh deploys to describe these every day details matches his soul-baring honesty... The book's daunting tenor is frequently punctuated by Marsh's scathingly black humour... It is unprecedented for a neurosurgeon to prise open their profession with such uncompromising frankness. Marsh's achievement is to humanise the complexities of neurosurgery by fearlessly exposing his own frailties
An excellent book... Marsh is clearly an extraordinarily nice individual... It is a wonderful read, essential for anyone curious about what it's really like to be a surgeon
I found this book a fascinating read and commend it. As far as I can discover, this is the first account of life by a surgeon working in today's health service
Henry Marsh's unflinchingly honest and profoundly moving memoir... illuminates the life-and-death decisions neurosurgeons wrestle with daily, the intricate marvels of the brain's anatomy, the joys and scourges of technological advances, the frustrations of working in a cash-starved NHS and all the conflicting emotions these struggles evoke... Marsh conveys his awe of the human body with literary flair... courageous and inspirational
This is a deeply compassionate account of a professional life spent on the edge, a job which has huge highs and appalling lows... Henry Marsh is a world-class neurosurgeon but he is also a great storyteller... This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary man
Henry Marsh is a neurosurgical consultant in a London teaching hospital, and his memoir, Do No Harm, offers an astonishing glimpse into this stressful career... The case histories are fascinating, but more importantly they are full of humanity. Marsh is the most honest author I've ever come across with regard to his own failings... This is a wonderful book, passionate and frank. If Marsh is even a tenth as good a neurosurgeon as he is a writer, I'd let him open my skull any time
Why has no one ever written a book like this before? It simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self doubt, of a phenomenal neurosurgeon who has been at the height of his specialism for decades and now has chosen with retirement looming to write an honest book. Why haven't more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty?... Well, thank God for Henry Marsh... One of the finest admissions to emerge in this phenomenal book is that of every surgeon's dilemma... what a bloody, splendid book: commas optional
Do No Harm is in many respects a self-lacerating document: by and large, it contains stories not of triumph, or the author's skill and expertise, but of the emotional and psychological toll exacted when things go horribly wrong... His understanding of the nature of suffering is deep and personal
Brain surgeons such as Henry Marsh, the author of this startling and moving memoir, have to live breathe, operate and make urgent decisions in full awareness of a terrible dilemma: if they open the skull they might save the patient's life, but a slip of the scalpel can cause appalling disability which, as Marsh puts it, can be much worse than death... It's this disarming candour that makes the book such an enthralling read... fascinating
Marsh offers us a memoir of startling honesty... Marsh's frankness speaks of a reflective character who found an unconventional route to his career... Thirty years on he remains invigorated by the job - part Sherlock Holmes in diagnosis, part Action Man in theatre. At times he's positively gleeful, and we share his excitement as he puts us in his surgeon's shoes and guides us through the hidden topography of the brain
[Henry Marsh] has you on the edge of your seat... Henry Marsh's patients are living, individual people - he makes us feel we know them... Doctors seldom talk to us as frankly and freely as Mr Marsh. In the select band of those who take on this daily dance with high anxiety he must, I think, be a great man
excellent... hugely compelling
Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh... sets a new standard for telling it like it is... His love for brain surgery and his patients shines through, but the specialty - shrouded in secrecy and mystique when he entered it - has now firmly had the rug pulled out from under it. We should thank Henry Marsh for that. We need his wisdom as a "roof" for future surgeons and a rein for public expectations. A good death, without surgery, is a very good outcome
Do No Harm is an elegant series of meditations at the closing of a long career. Many of the stories are moving enough to raise tears ... At heart, this is a book about wisdom and experience
Marsh has written a book about a love affair, and one cannot help feeling similarly smitten ... 'Elegant, delicate, dangerous and full of profound meaning'. All four of those epithets might describe this book
This is a beautifully written, humane, moving and darkly funny memoir by a senior consultant neuro-surgeon at St George's Hospital, Tooting... I was fascinated by this frank view of life on the other side of the anaesthetic mist. It takes us deep into both the human brain and the entrails of the NHS, and it is sometimes hard to know which is the more alarming
A mesmerising, at times painful journey through a neurosurgeon's extraordinary career. As delicate as he can be brutal, Marsh's account of himself if always honest and moving. Human frailty at its strongest.
Do No Harm is a difficult book to read, not formally or technically - Marsh has a fluid, informal style - but because of the sheer sense of exposure. Puns aside, neurosurgery is at the cutting edge of what it means to be, not only a doctor with limited power to cure or palliate, but to be human ... The simple idea that doctors themselves are of the same flesh and blood as their patients, a fact often forgotten on both sides of the relationship, is at the core of ... Do No Harm
As gripping and engrossing as the best medical drama, only with the added piquancy of being entirely true, this compelling account of what it's really like to be a brain surgeon will have you on the edge of your sunlounger
Neurosurgery has met its Boswell in Henry Marsh. Painfully honest about the mistakes that can 'wreck' a brain, exquisitely attuned to the tense and transient bond between doctor and patient, and hilariously impatient of hospital management, Marsh draws us deep into medicine's most difficult art and lifts our spirits. It's a superb achievement
     
Henry Marsh
Henry Marsh was one of Britain's foremost brain surgeons, and worked as Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London for thirty years. Since retiring from full-time work...(+)
Books by Henry Marsh
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