Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I quite liked this one.
You know how a lot of people think that doctors or surgeons, etc, can be pompous jerks? Well, this author comes across as one, but he also knows that that is how he sometimes comes across, and that lends a certain humour to this book.
The book takes us through a variety of different experiences of Henry Marsh's life, from when he was a young student and still 'wet behind the ears', to towards the end of his career when he is a respected and esteemed neurosurgeon. Throughout he tackles difficult cases, patients who try his patience (pun intended), and patients who tug at his heartstrings in spite of his efforts to be detached. Patients he remembers, standing out against a sea of faces and conditions.
He also grapples with the medical system and the politics and bureaucracy, something that even highly respected and important doctors still have to deal with (much to his dismay, of course)!
The book skips around a bit, but in spite of this I found that it was well balanced. On one page I would be rolling my eyes at the impatience and arrogance of the author, but then on the next I would find myself sympathetic to him and what he had to deal with. It's not as personal as Unnatural Causes was, but that's because it's a different book, and in ways it benefits from that focus on medicine instead of the personal life of the doctor. A little bit more might have been nice, but isn't necessary.
Definitely worth a read for those who enjoy these types of books where we get a glimpse into these professions that we'll never have an intimate understanding of.
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