Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

DO NO HARM

STORIES OF LIFE, DEATH, AND BRAIN SURGERY

Beautifully written and deeply moving—one of the best physician memoirs in recent memory.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

A British neurosurgeon delivers fascinating, often harrowing stories of several dozen cases intermixed with compelling digressions into his travels, personal life, and philosophy.

In 25 chapters, each built around a neurosurgical operation (infections and strokes but mostly tumors), the author provides vivid accounts of patients before and after surgery as well as encounters with Britain’s National Health Service, which is far skimpier than America’s system (even hospital beds are in short supply). The quality of medicine, however, is first-class. American neurosurgical trainees serve in his hospital, and Marsh admires but does not share the gung-ho optimism of America’s “death is optional” surgeons. While happy to recount dramatic cures, he admits that these are not routine in a neurosurgeon’s practice and that aggressive surgery often leaves patients with catastrophic brain damage. Few American surgeons, worried about being sued (a legitimate concern), would dare write, “I am more experienced than in the past and more realistic about the limitations of surgery….I have become more willing to accept that it can be better to let someone die rather than operate when there is only a very small chance of the person returning to an independent life.” Far more than the average doctor-memoirist, Marsh does not conceal his feelings, whether dealing with patients, colleagues, assistants, or superiors, and he spares no one when matters turn out badly. Readers will share his emotions, including contempt for a penny-pinching, meddling government. Unlike American doctor/government haters, there is no sour right-wing ideology or any impression that he is defending an obscenely high income. Nor does he trumpet his compassion; that is never in doubt.

Beautifully written and deeply moving—one of the best physician memoirs in recent memory.

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06581-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview