Do No Harm

  • by Henry Marsh
  • Narrated by Jim Barclay
  • 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With compassion and candor, leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets, and the moments of black humor that characterize a brain surgeon's life. If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft practiced by calm and detached surgeons, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again.

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What the Critics Say

"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)
"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." (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? Brain surgery, that's the most remote thing for me, I don't know anything about it, and as it is with everything I'm ignorant of, I trust completely the skills of those who practice it, and tend to forget the human element, which is failures, misunderstandings, mistakes, luck and bad luck, but also the non-professional, everyday life that they have. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery 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. But there are plenty of others - for instance, the mechanical, material side of being, that we also are wire and strings that can be fixed, not unlike cars and washing machines, really." (Karl Ove Knausgaard, Financial Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Neurosurgical struggles between hope & reality

Do No Harm provides interesting, educational, terrifying, and honest insights into neurosurgery, the patients that undergo the surgery, Britain's National Health Service, and the author himself. Each chapter deals with a different condition - pineocytoma, meningioma, anaesthesia dolorosa, hubris - in which Mr. Marsh recounts his successes, failures, thoughts, and feelings.

His prose is beautiful when describing the brain and his view through the counterbalanced surgical microscope, which “leans out over the patient’s head like an inquisitive, thoughtful crane.” The internal cerebral veins are like “the great arches of a cathedral roof”. Marsh writes about his anxiety, how and how much he should convey to his patients, the unusual route of how he became a neurosurgeon, his frustrations, and all the things that make him human first, neurosurgeon second. When speaking with patients, he struggles to find the balance between “hope and reality,” “optimism and realism,” “detachment and compassion.” This book details those struggles in fine form, and Jim Barclay provides absolutely perfect narration.
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- Bonny

Great storytelling wrapped in a medical package!

I am a neuropsychologist, so this topic naturally caught the attention of my geeky brain. However, I think almost anyone would enjoy this book, especially if they have ever had to navigate their way through the healthcare system to treat a significant illness (neurological in nature or not). Dr. March is not just a neurosurgeon, he is a poet, philosopher, self-deprecating comedian, and a grand spinner of stories! Finally, the narrator fits the text so well that it is hard to imagine anyone else reading this book. This is a book that I am almost certain to listen to again in the future. Well done, Dr. March!!
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- Ellen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-26-2015
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books