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
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 — Leyla Sanai, 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, FINANCIAL 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
About the Author
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 in the NHS, he has continued to operate and lecture abroad, in Nepal, Albania and Ukraine. He has been the subject of two award-winning documentary films, YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HANDS and THE ENGLISH SURGEON. He is the author of two memoirs, the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling DO NO HARM and ADMISSIONS. He was made a CBE in 2010.
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