I read this heartwarming, funny and heartbreaking book three weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. I delayed writing the review as I was so blown away by this wonderful book that I felt it would be impossible to write an objective review whilst still under the influence. Here I am three weeks and six books later and I still think it’s one of my all time top ten. My initial reaction on seeing the cover was not to read it, because of the sub title “ Stories of life, death and brain surgery”. It’s probably one of the most off putting (yet accurate) sub titles and for this reason the book is unlikely to reach it’s well deserved place at the top of the best sellers list, unless we make it a ‘Word of mouth hit’.
Henry Marsh is one of the UK’s leading neurosurgeons and has been the subject of two award-winning TV programmes. Medicine was not his first career choice, he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, then held down a series of mundane jobs before deciding to become a doctor. This superb, compelling book tells what it is like to be a surgeon working in a profession where every day he is required to make agonizing and heartbreaking decisions, and where even the most minor error can have catastrophic life changing consequences.
What makes “Do no Harm” so special is that Henry is such a deeply compassionate and caring man, who through the initial consultation, diagnosis, pre and post operative care gets to know and like his patients, which makes his job all the more difficult when making life or death decisions. You’ll need a large box of tissues for every chapter tells a story. The happy endings will have you in tears…. The others will have you openly weeping along with Henry. Despite the emotional content there is plenty of laughter. Henry (Victor Meldrew), has a lot to say about the chaos caused by Government directives and hospital bureaucrats and has a way of writing about it that will make you laugh out loud. Some of his experiences working in Ukraine beggar belief.
Henry Marsh is due to retire soon, despite his somewhat irascible nature, his sensitivity, gentleness and surgical skills will be sorely missed by our NHS. Please read “Do no Harm” we might make a best seller of it yet.
Five bites +++