Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Paperback)
  • Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Paperback)
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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Paperback)

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Paperback 304 Pages / Published: 09/10/2014
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Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

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.

Read the follow-up to Do No Harm, Admissions, which follows Marsh through the final months of his career before retirement, looking back over his life in medicine and the changing world of surger and the NHS.

Read an Waterstones exclusive Q&A with Henry Marsh in which he discusses his life at the frontline of surgery, his views on end of life care and the future of the NHS.

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
ISBN: 9781780225920
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 131 x 199 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'[Marsh] is a fine writer and storyteller, and a nuanced observer.' - The Observer

'His book is infused with a sense of urgency, as if he senses his time might be short. For his sake, and for the sake of his readers, I hope he's wron' - The Guardian 

'…his insights about life, death, and professional purpose are irresistible.' - The Express

'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

'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

'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

'[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

'Incredibly absorbing . . . an astonishingly candid insight' - Bill Bryson

'Riveting . . . extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening . . . [Marsh] writes with uncommon power and frankness' - New York 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' - Independent on Sunday

'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

'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, Finacial Times

'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

'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

'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 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

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Reviews

View all

“An astonishing memoir of life and death”

Henry Marsh will already be known to many thanks to the extraordinary documentaries, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon; however reading this, his extraordinary memoir, proves that there is much to learn... More

Paperback edition
3 similar books recommended
16th February 2015
Helpful? Upvote 95
Emma Prince at Southampton West Quay

“Revealing and surprising!”

A warts and all memoir that plunges the reader head first into the fascinating and fragile world of a brain surgeon. Alongside vivid descriptions of human anatomy are the raw confessions of a man driven at times by... More

Hardback edition
9th July 2014
Helpful? Upvote 95

“Neurosurgeons are human too”

The powerful message delivered by Marsh in this compelling book is that doctors do not possess miraculous powers or abilities- they are like the rest of us in our daily work - merely human, striving for the best... More

Paperback edition
18th February 2015
Helpful? Upvote 48

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