Monday, 27 March 2017

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. Book review

Hello. I seem to have had a run of interesting books from the mobile library just lately. Non fiction is the smallest section there and I go through it over and over again, in case there are any little gems I might have overlooked before. I don't have any particular subject in mind when I browse, because even the most unlikely topic can be brought to life by the writing skills of the author. 
I wasn't sure I wanted to read about brain surgery but I took a chance, and I'm glad I did. Reading the blurb inside the cover told me that it wasn't going to be all sweet and sugary with happy endings, indeed it wasn't. Henry Marsh writes a gripping, brutally honest account of his thirty odd years in neurosurgery, making agonising decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty. 
Henry Marsh achieved great things, his operations have saved many lives. He has also had some harrowing disasters, which have haunted him for many years.

How the NHS works, the frustrations of staff and bed shortages, and the human dramas which unfold within the hospital, are all covered. Henry donates some of his time to hospitals in the Ukraine, he frequently travels there to train and assist Igor, a willing pupil who is dedicated to his work. These trips gave him an insight into the drab and poorly equipped hospitals Igor was up against.

Henry is indeed a true hero, a compassionate man who is dedicated to his craft. There are twentyfive chapters which can be read singly, but once into it you won't want to put it down. Be prepared for some triumphs, but also some sadness. There are no photographs so nothing to be squeamish about. A lot of it is case studies where the identities of the patients have been changed.

There are a few videos on yooootoooob, I've picked this one out, it's eleven minutes long, A Day in the Life of NHS neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It gives a taster of the man himself, it may or may not give you an appetite for the book.

Weather not so good today, Crafty Club was good this morning, now I'm going to get on with some painting, crochet, and stitching. I have some projects which I want to finish.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip


  1. What a wonderful man.Sad thing is he is willing and capable to help so many more people if he was allowed to.I've to see a neurologist shortly.My doctor sent me to the hospital for tests.The Doctor there said I needed to see a neurologist.He said to go back to see my Doctor to get a referel.I saw my Doctor who then sent me a letter with a code on telling me to then contact the Hospital myself.I did ,they said they were fully booked and if I don't hear anything by 2 weeks I should go back to my Doctor.I know I have to wait but what a palaver.Someone needs to organize the NHS more sensibly x

  2. I read that book last year and found it gripping. I borrowed it from a fellow WI member

  3. How interesting - one of my brothers had brain surgery for a benign tumour a couple of years ago. But it had to come out as it was in a dangerous location and was causing all kinds of problems. 12 hours of surgery followed by 5 days in intensive care - but successful. It is amazing what doctors like Marsh can do!

  4. This sounds a very interesting book and Henry Marsh an interesting man. It's wonderful to see a surgeon speaking freely, years and proximity to retirement would certainly make speaking out easier. It's a remarkably similar situation in Australian hospitals, I agree with everything he said. I'll keep an eye out for the book.

  5. I read this book last year from cover to cover in a couple of days. A very professional man who really cared how his patients were treated. I was particularly touched by his dedication shown by his Sunday evening visits to see his patients before surgery.


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