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

Do No Harm Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery

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Sue Baker's view...

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2014.

Nearing the end of his career leading neuro-surgeon, Henry Marsh is not only able to reveal much about the work he has undertaken throughout his life but also the structure within which he has worked, the NHS and its current affliction with bureaucracy, red-tape and top-heavy management. Henry Marsh’s account of life as a surgeon, gives us, the potential patients a view from “the other side”, learning what surgeons can go through, the tensions, the worry and the responsibilities, even when things go wrong. Henry Marsh is an excellent storyteller and his account of a life’s work makes for a wise, caring and absorbing book.

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The Costa Judges said Marsh's book was “an addictive, eye-opening and poetic exploration of a brain surgeon's doubts and drive.”

Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. As a consultant neurosurgeon at a London hospital for 25 years, Henry Marsh has clearly enjoyed the satisfaction of the technical skill involved in removing a tumour, and in restoring life to the sick. Each chapter starts with a real case study, and the book conveys both an explorer’s fascination with the human brain and a brain surgeon’s contradictory emotional demands of dispassionate observation and compassion. But, operations don’t always go to plan, and he lives with the ghosts of those he couldn’t save, or left more disabled than when they arrived.
~ The Good Book Guide


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

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2014.

What is it like to be a brain surgeon? How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands, to cut through the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences when it all goes wrong? DO NO HARM offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity.


'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

'As gripping and engrossing as the best medical drama, only with the added piquancy of being entirely true, this compelling accoutn of what it's really like to be a brain surgeon will have you on the edge of your sunlounger' -- Sandra Parsons DAILY MAIL 'Summer Reading'

'Puns aside, neurosurgery is at the cutting edge of what it means to be, not only a doctor with limited power to cure or palliate, but to be human' -- Seaumus Sweeney TLS

About the Author

Henry Marsh read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before studying medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1984 and was appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London in 1987, where he still works full time. He has been the subject of two major documentary films, YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HANDS, which won the ROYAL TELEVISION SOCIETY GOLD MEDAL, and THE ENGLISH SURGEON, featuring his work in the Ukraine, which won an EMMY. He was made a CBE in 2010. He is married to the anthropologist and writer Kate Fox.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th October 2014


Henry Marsh

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Author's Website


Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


304 pages


Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites




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