• by Atul Gawande
  • Narrated by John Bedford Lloyd
  • 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new audiobook, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. Gawande's gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to labor and delivery rooms in Boston, to a polio outbreak in India, and to malpractice courtrooms around the country. He discusses the ethical dilemmas of doctors' participation in lethal injections, examines the influence of money on modern medicine, and recounts the astoundingly contentious history of hand washing.
And as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable. At once unflinching and compassionate, Better is an exhilarating journey narrated by arguably the best nonfiction doctor-writer around. Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and how they progress from merely good to great provides rare insight into the elements of success, illuminating every area of human endeavor.


What the Critics Say

"Surgeon and MacArthur fellow Gawande applies his gift for dulcet prose to medical and ethical dilemmas in this collection." (Publishers Weekly)
"Better is a masterpiece, a series of stories set inside the four walls of a hospital that end up telling us something unforgettable about the world outside." (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unfocused & Rambling

This book is meant to address the science of human performance in medicine. It is, instead, an unfocused collection of anecdotes seasoned with facts drawn from the history of medicine (Semelweiss & Lister). I think the intent was to use each case to illustrate larger principles or themes, but this simply didn't happen. The stories seem randomly selected; they neither standout singlely for the wisdom they contain, nor do they build one upon the other. It would be like a research paper that's all methodology, but no results, no discussion, no conclusion.

The sections on efforts to eradicate polio and good CF programs vs great CF programs are especially long on exposition, and short on synthesis. Battlefield medicine is tough & expensive; we've had to work harder, spend more and try new things to get better survival results.
General surgeons in India don't have all the same resources as in North America, but they're willing to improvise.

The book ends(it doesn't conclude)with the authors tips on how to get better - "become a positive deviant." These don't appear to be based on the previous 7.5hours. More like, 'everything I need to know about improving my health care organization I learned in kindergarten.'
-talk to people
-listen to them
-write things down
-don't whine
-do things differently
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- Bonneville

A MUST read . . .

for anyone interested in the current state of health care and the medical field, for professionals, and those like me who aspire to be a doctor in my next life.

Seriously, this is an excellent book that covers very interesting and surprising issues related to improving medical care and outcomes. A few of the things Dr. Gawande touches on are cleanliness, battle injuries, eradicating polio, doctors' salaries, hospital excellence (or lack of), and practice of medicine in impoverished areas of India. Each topic had surprising information and was compellingly interesting to me. The author's intelligence, clear-thinking, and caring came through as the book progressed. He has a great deal to offer medical professionals and also the non-medical, average person, too.

John Bedford Lloyd did a fabulous narration. I never felt that he was reading someone elses book. He read it like it was his own. His voice is simply wonderful, too.

Highly recommended if the topic is of interest to you.
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- Kathy "Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-21-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio