Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

do no harm

This is a fascinating account of the work of a top British Neurosurgeon. The author has the great talent of explaining complex medical matters in a way that’s very accessible to the lay person.

This book is affecting on a number of levels. It makes you realise what an amazing and complex thing the brain is, and the catastrophic consequences for the individual if things go wrong. We are also left in awe at the personality of a skilled surgeon who must become a detached and precise technician, in order to achieve the best possible outcome for his patient. The stakes are high, mistakes in this line of work can be fatal, or worst, leave a patient in a twilight world between life and death. Marsh never loses sight of the humanity and dignity of his patients.

The emotional punch of this account is, as you would expect, very great. He also doesn’t sugar coat his own persona, he is often high handed and tough on colleagues, he is no saint, as he would readily admit. Marsh has produced a work of great honesty, he is fearless and direct, especially when condemning the petty bureaucracy of the National Health Service.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the workings of that most complex of organs, the human brain. But, more than that, I recommend this book to all those who wish to gain an insight into the high pressure world of the people who care for us at our most vulnerable. A mighty book!


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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