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The Bookshelf: March 31, 2015

In this week's Bookshelf, our content partner Kirkus Reviews highlights Do No Harm.

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Trib+Health is joining with respected books authority Kirkus Reviews to bring you select reviews of books of note in the field of health care. For more book reviews and recommendations, visit

DO NO HARM: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

by Henry Marsh

A British neurosurgeon delivers fascinating, often harrowing stories of several dozen cases intermixed with compelling digressions into his travels, personal life, and philosophy.

In 25 chapters, each built around a neurosurgical operation (infections and strokes but mostly tumors), the author provides vivid accounts of patients before and after surgery as well as encounters with Britain’s National Health Service, which is far skimpier than America’s system. The quality of medicine, however, is first-class. American neurosurgical trainees serve in his hospital, and Marsh admires but does not share the gung-ho optimism of America’s “death is optional” surgeons …  Readers will share his emotions, including contempt for a penny-pinching, meddling government. Unlike American doctor/government haters, there is no sour right-wing ideology or any impression that he is defending an obscenely high income. Nor does he trumpet his compassion; that is never in doubt.

Beautifully written and deeply moving — one of the best physician memoirs in recent memory.

For full review, visit

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