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A Life in Brain Surgery
Narrated by: Henry Marsh
Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical front line. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what 40 years spent handling the human brain has taught him.

Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the overwhelming burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering. Unearthing memories of his early days as a medical student and the experiences that shaped him as a young surgeon, he explores the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties, and where the consequences of your decisions alter the lives not just of patients but also of those around them. The overpowering human urge to prolong life can often come at a great cost to those who are living it and to those who love them.

In this searing, provocative and deeply personal memoir, the best-selling author of Do No Harm finds new purpose in his own life as he approaches the end of his professional career and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end.

Written and narrated by Dr. Henry Marsh.

©2017 Henry Marsh (P)2017 Orion Publishing Group

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Fantastic book, well read, honest insightful

Fantastic book, well read, honest, and insightful account of his career and how it impacted on his personal life. Would absolutely recommend.

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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brenda Holliday
  • Brenda Holliday
  • 03-07-18

Admissions. A life in brain surgery.

I so much admire the courage of Mr Marsh who has done so much to show that a group of people who have been put on a pedestal by patients and staff are in fact human like the rest if us. Fascinating though the description of his work is, I found myself wanting to know more about the progress of his work on the cottage. This book has been written by a deeply thoughtful and almost painfully honest person. So few of us have the courage to exam ourselves with total honesty and fund aspects of our lives and behaviour wanting.. Thank you Mr Marsh.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Trodez
  • 03-13-18

So good I listened twice

As a nurse,who trained in the same era. I found it interesting, stimulating and so comforting. I am not alone in my frustration and disgust at what has happened to our wonderful NHS, and to old England.
Well done ! A candid, honest and insightful book. Thanks

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Berkan Sesen
  • Berkan Sesen
  • 07-23-19

Not a brain surgery book

I have read Do No Harm with great interest and have bought this book expecting a similar storyline. While there are frequent references to medical cases, this is not Do No Harm. It is more like the memoirs, admissions and life lessons of a very interesting and wise individual who happens to have worked as a neurosurgeon. It is a pleasant read, but had it not been for the very successful forts book, this one would (probably deservedly) have gone unnoticed.

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  • Mr James A McGill
  • 07-06-19

outstanding listen

A facinating book told in a very interesting manner by the author well worth a listen

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  • Katrina Angus
  • 06-14-19

Loved it!

Loved every minute of this book. Very interesting and informative. Henry reads it beautifully and he is factual, truthful and also shows an emotional vulnerability that is likeable throughout the book. The descriptions are thought provoking and provides a good basis to fire the imagination.

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  • Martin Flynn
  • 02-26-19

Enlightening

nice and easy listening, yet fascinating and addictive too. will deffo listen to his other work too.

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  • Joe A
  • 02-14-19

2nd book of the life and work of brain surgeon

A neighbour lent me the first book (Do No Harm) by Henry Marsh. A really enjoyable but refreshingly honest account of the working life of a brain surgeon.
This book is a 2nd instalment. The author has a nack of explaining complex conditions or decision making in a way that is easy to understand for the reader. Henry Marsh is on the verge of retirement from a distinguished career. There are interwoven stories of times working with the NHS in London, the Ukraine and Nepal. Of course many stories are based on medical experiences but many give an account of how a highly accomplished individual tackles the other challenges of normal life: home building & DIY, regrets about spousal neglect, buying a delapidated canalside cottage etc. Again, I admire Mr Marsh’s brutal honesty, what it feels like to operate on someone’s brain and deal with poor outcomes that occasionally result. I am a healthcare practitioner and even though my working life is very different, it’s nice to know it’s not just me that has doubt at times when I achieve poor outcomes. Enjoyable read.

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  • Morag Prendiville
  • 01-06-19

loved it

very enjoyable, a book I will come back to again and again. looking forward to Dr Marshs other book

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  • Helena
  • 12-07-18

Not as good as last book, running out of material?

Last book was great, this one takes detours into house renovations, parental careers and other things less relevant to brain surgery. It started to feel like he'd run out of cases to tell.

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  • ARG779
  • 11-28-18

breathtakingly beautiful, honest,

Moving, honest, easy to recognise this world as a colleague, and full of wisdom, highly recommended

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Profile Image for Paul
  • Paul
  • 06-20-17

Beautifully read, refreshingly honest, touchingly humane and always engaging.

Mr Marsh is clearly an extraordinary polymath with his hands, his mind and his heart. I love the way his story telling ranges from one continent to another, from culture to culture, patient to patient, agonising outcomes to miraculous cures, touching generosity to excoriating cringe-fests of past indiscretions and vanities.

It is his humanity, laid bare in heartwarming and surprising juxtaposition to his laudable achievements that makes his story so compelling.

Set next to his humanity is the joy of his insatiable curiosity and lust to create with his hands.... slashing weeds, sharpening the blade of a plane, lifting a steel beam into place with fewer tools than the Egyptians probably had at their disposal, or, planting a forest and building new windows. To feel the enthusiasm in his voice is a delight.

Oh, and I love his fulminating outbursts against The Managers and the regressive left. Love it!

Then, of course, are the all too serious existential issues that he discourses on.... something close to my heart given the instances I've twice been faced with regarding "switching off the machine". Thank you Mr Marsh for your candour and forthrightness.

I only have one beef..... I wish Mr Marsh had read his other book as well (Do No Harm).

Cheers,
Paul

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris K.
  • 03-21-18

Uncomfortably Relatable

a refreshingly honest, deeply sad account to relate to, inevitable, insurmountable, difficulties of capitalism in healthcare

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  • cameron.hoare
  • 06-15-17

a nice memoir. honest but all over the place.

an interesting memoir. well told, homest and insightful, but at parts sounded like a lonely man trying to avoid dementia

1 of 3 people found this review helpful