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

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

byHenry Marsh

Hardcover | June 20, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info

$8.00 online 
$29.99 list price
Earn 40 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Available in stores


The Instant New York Times best seller!

Riveting. ... [Marsh] gives us an extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening understanding of his vocation. - The New York Times

Winner of the PEN Ackerley Prize
Shortlisted for both the Guardian First Book Prize and the Costa Book Award
Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
A Finalist for the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize
A Finalist for the Wellcome Book Prize
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

What is it like to be a brain surgeon? How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands, to cut into the stuff that creates thought, feeling, and reason? How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially lifesaving operation when it all goes wrong?

In neurosurgery, more than in any other branch of medicine, the doctor's oath to "do no harm" holds a bitter irony. Operations on the brain carry grave risks. Every day, leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh must make agonizing decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty.

If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practiced by calm and detached doctors, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candor, Marsh reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets, and the moments of black humor that characterize a brain surgeon's life.

Do No Harm provides unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life's most difficult decisions.

HENRY MARSH studied medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London, 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. He has been the subject of two documentary films, Your Life in Their Hands, which won the Royal Television Soc...
Title:Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain SurgeryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.46 × 5.77 × 1.08 inPublished:June 20, 2017Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:125006581X

ISBN - 13:9781250065810

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I am someone who has absolutely zero interest in doing anything in the medical field but was looking for an interesting non-fiction book. Dr. Marsh's accounts of life as a neurosurgeon are brutally honest but fascinating. It makes you think about how much pressure these individuals are under - literally having someone's life in their hands.
Date published: 2018-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it! For such a heavy topic, this was a very easy book to read, even funny at some points. Honestly such a good insight on the life of a neurosurgeon. Marsh has definitely lived a book-worthy life.
Date published: 2018-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great and quick read Just started reading this book after it was recommended to me by a family member. It is a quick and very interesting read with some british humour added to it!
Date published: 2017-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just started but amazing I just started the book and I am now on the second chapter, and I'm in love with the book. I generally don't like reading non-fiction books because I find them to be too narrative rather than bringing me into the experience. However, this book doesn't do that. Dr. Marsh did and amazing job at writing this book and making me feel for what he was going through with each of his patients and their experiences. I definitely recommend this book !
Date published: 2017-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and informative This first hand account brought the life of a neurosurgeon into a new perspective for me. You do not have to be a med student to read this, in fact I would recommend this book to young people such as myself who are exploring possible career paths. Henry Marsh's book does not read like a textbook, its an honest account of the highs and lows of neurosurgery. I personally learned much about the human anatomy and the process of surgery.
Date published: 2017-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An interesting perspective Interesting view into the mind of a surgeon, normally inaccessible people into whose hands we place our lives.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book about an egocentric surgeon I loved the book since it explained the life of a neurosurgeon pretty well, although I pictured this surgeon as a very egocentric person. He seems to think the world revolves around him, and that everyone owes him something because of his profession. That is the only reason I gave it 4 stars.
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Marsh writes with both humour and pathos and gives an honest account of the successes and failures of being a brain surgeon and the trials of dealing with the bureaucracy of the NHS. It's one of those books that you don't want to end.
Date published: 2015-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Do No Harm Heard an interview with the author on CBC. Very interesting to the point where i had to read his book. Do No Harm opens ones eyes to a very small glimpse of the fragility of the brain and how we take it for granted. Marsh made it evidently clear that dealing with patients is not only about explaining the mechanics of the brain, but trying to help them and their families put living- dying in perspective. A task that did not seem to get easier with seniority. Well done! Enlightening read. Alas, as much as Marsh writes this book to shine a small light on his vocation(or maybe some sort of self repentence), I felt this book had undertones of pompousness and arrogance that only the Brits can produce. It seemed that Marsh was trying to comes to terms with this arrogance, blaming it on being young and having unlimited 'hubris' but i dont buy it. Long live the stogey upperclass Engishman eh. BLAH! That being said, next time I get a headache, this book will surely come to mind.
Date published: 2015-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from From the other end of the scope An honest objective presentation of what it's like from the physicians perspective. Mr destroyed human frailties and conceit just like everyone else! Also very well written and pleasant to read
Date published: 2015-08-04

Editorial Reviews

"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"His love for brain surgery and his patients shines through, but the specialty--shrouded in secrecy and mystique when he entered it--has now firmly had the rug pulled out from under it. We should thank Henry Marsh for that." -The Times"When a book opens like this: 'I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing' - you can't let it go, you have to read on, don't you? Brain surgery, that's the most remote thing for me, I don't know anything about it, and as it is with everything I'm ignorant of, I trust completely the skills of those who practice it, and tend to forget the human element, which is failures, misunderstandings, mistakes, luck and bad luck, but also the non-professional, everyday life that they have. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh reveals all of this, in the midst of life-threatening situations, and that's one reason to read it; true honesty in an unexpected place. But there are plenty of others - for instance, the mechanical, material side of being, that we also are wire and strings that can be fixed, not unlike cars and washing machines, really." -Karl Ove Knausgaard, Financial Times"Marsh, one of our leading neurosurgeons, is an eloquent and poetic writer. Do No Harm offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the most mysterious part of human life. His descriptions of neurosurgery are at once fascinating and illuminating; a gripping memoir of an extraordinary career." -Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, author of The Organized Mind and This Is Your Brain On Music"Do No Harm is a penetrating, in-the-trenches look at the life of a modern day neurosurgeon. With rare and unflinching honesty, Henry Marsh describes not only the soaring triumphs but the shattering tragedies that are so much a part of every surgeon's life. A remarkable achievement." -Michael J. Collins, author of Hot Lights, Cold Steel"A soul-baring account of a practical-minded neurosurgeon who does not suffer fools or believe in souls, who favors 'statistical outlier' over 'miracle,' and who admits that a surgeon's ultimate achievement is marked by patients who 'recover completely and forget us completely.' Readers, however, will not soon forget Dr. Marsh." -Katrina Firlik, author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside"Do No Harm is a fascinating look into the reality of life as a neurosurgeon. The personal patient stories are gripping, providing the public with an incredibly candid look into the imperfections and perfections of a dedicated neurosurgeon. In Do No Harm, Dr. Marsh takes the reader into deep into a world of life, death, and everything in between. Despite it all, Dr. Marsh's commitment to his patients and his profession never wavers. You will not be able to put this book down." -Paul Ruggieri M.D., surgeon and author of Confessions of a Surgeon and The Cost of Cutting"Do No Harm dares to reveal the raw and tender humanity behind brain surgery. Each story invites readers into the private thoughts of a neurosurgeon and astonishes them with the counterintuitive compassion required in the operating room." -Michael Paul Mason, author of Head Cases"The outstanding feature of Do No Harm is the author's completely candid description of the highs and lows of a neurosurgical career. ... For its unusual and admirable candor, wisdom and humor, Do No Harm is a smashing good read from which the most experienced and the most junior neurosurgeons have much to learn." -AANS Neurosurgeon"This thoughtful doctor provides a highly personal and fascinating look inside the elite world of neurosurgery, appraising both its amazing successes as well as its sobering failures." -Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)"One of the best books ever about a life in medicine, Do No Harm boldly and gracefully exposes the vulnerability and painful privilege of being a physician." -Booklist (starred review)"Henry Marsh peels back the meninges to reveal the glistening, harrowing, and utterly compelling world of neurosurgery. Top-notch medical writing." -Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine"The Knausgaard of neurosurgery. ... Marsh writes like a novelist." -The New Yorker"Riveting. ... [Marsh] gives us an extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening understanding of his vocation." -The New York Times"A surprising page-turner, Do No Harm is British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh's mesmerizing memoir of his career highlights and low points, a fascinating blend of derring-do and humble pie. ... Marsh's prose is elegant and seasoned, with no false bravado. ... Marsh's gift for words helps him share his sense of wonder with his readers." -Seattle Times"There's no denying the vicarious thrill of peeking over a neurosurgeon's shoulder in the operating theater, and Dr. Marsh delivers plenty of hospital drama. Yet what sticks with you are the moments when the lens flips and the field of view widens, and you realize that, in learning about the minutiae of neurosurgery, you're gaining insight into life itself." -The Wall Street Journal"Like the work of his fellow physicians Jerome Groopman and Atul Gawande, Do No Harm offers insight into the life of doctors and the quandaries they face as we throw our outsize hopes into their fallible hands." -The Washington Post