Do No Harm
‘A SUPERB ACHIEVEMENT’ IAN MCEWAN
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What is it like to be a brain surgeon?
How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands, to cut through the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason?
How do you live with the consequences when it all goes wrong?
DO NO HARM offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. With astonishing candour and compassion, Henry Marsh reveals the exhilarating drama of surgery, the chaos and confusion of a busy modern hospital, and above all the need for hope when faced with life’s most agonising decisions.
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PEN Ackerley Prize
South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature
Costa Biography Award
Duff Cooper Prize
Wellcome Book Prize
Guardian First Book Award
Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
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 -- Nick Curtis * EVENING STANDARD * 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 -- Ed Caesar * THE SUNDAY TIMES * A strikingly honest and humane account of what it means to hold the power of life and death in your hands . . . elegant, edifying and necessary -- Erica Wagner * NEW STATESMAN 'Books of the Year' * A mesmerising, at times painful journey through a neurosurgeon's extraordinary career. As delicate as he can be brutal, Marsh's account of himself is always honest and moving. Human frailty at its strongest -- Jessie Burton, author of THE MINIATURIST 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 -- Sandra Parsons * DAILY MAIL * 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 . . . 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 -- Karl Ove Knausgard * FINANCIAL TIMES * 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 -- Phil Hammond * THE TIMES * Offers an astonishing glimpse into this stressful career. 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 -- Leyla Sanai * INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY * Riveting . . . extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening . . . [Marsh] writes with uncommon power and frankness * NEW YORK TIMES * Incredibly absorbing . . . an astonishingly candid insight -- Bill Bryson [Do No Harm] simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self-doubt . . . Why haven't more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty? Well, thank God for Henry Marsh . . . What a bloody, splendid book: commas optional -- Euan Ferguson * OBSERVER * 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 -- Nicholas Blincoe * DAILY TELEGRAPH * An enthralling read . . . a testimony of wonder . . . Marsh's style is admirably clear, concise and precise . . There is no forcing of a narrative arc or a happy ending, just the quotidian frustrations, sorrows, regrets and successes of neurosurgical life -- Gavin Francis * GUARDIAN * 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 * Ian McEwan *
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