Admissions : A Life in Brain Surgery

3.93 (6,109 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Extraordinary...both exhilarating and alarming...fascinating' DAILY MAIL

'Wonderful...a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit' FINANCIAL TIMES

Henry Marsh has spent four decades operating on the human brain. In this searing and provocative memoir following his retirement from the NHS, he reflects on the experiences that have shaped his career and life, gaining a deeper understanding of what matters to us all in the end.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 200 x 132 x 20mm | 270g
  • Weidenfeld & Nicolson
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9781474603874
  • 20,551

Review Text

Sensational...Marsh is curmudgeonly, unflinching, clinical, competitive, often contemptuous and consistently curious. In Admissions he scrubs up just as well the second time around and continues to revel in his joyous candour THE SUNDAY TIMES
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Review quote

Sensational...Marsh is curmudgeonly, unflinching, clinical, competitive, often contemptuous and consistently curious. In Admissions he scrubs up just as well the second time around and continues to revel in his joyous candour * THE SUNDAY TIMES * Superb...a eulogy to surgery and a study of living. I didn't want this book to end. Henry Marsh is part of a growing canon of superb modern medical writers...whose storytelling and prose are transportative...His timing is also impeccable...His sentences, too, feel like works of the finest craftmanship, made with the love that goes into both his woodwork and surgery -- Jessamy Calkin * DAILY TELEGRAPH * Marsh is, given his profession, a surprisingly emotional man, likably so. His account of his younger self that threads through this compulsive book is a Bildungsroman in itself. He is also a fine writer and storyteller, and a nuanced observer -- Tim Adams * OBSERVER * The maverick is back, even more blunt and irascible, with tales of thrilling, high-wire operations at medicine's unconquered frontier, woven through with personal memoir...Marsh in full spate is quite magnificent...a master of tar-black, deadpan humour -- Melanie Reid * THE TIMES * Disarmingly frank storytelling. [Marsh] is, in spite of himself, hugely likeable...his reflections on death and dying equal those in Atul Gawande's excellent Being Mortal * ECONOMIST * Epigramatically balanced and almost brutally candid...Admissions offers a reprise of many of [Do No Harm's] virtues, from the elegance of the writing to the undiminished sense of wonder at the complexity of the brain -- Tom Sutcliffe * MAIL ON SUNDAY * Admissions is a humbling read, in which neurosurgeon Henry Marsh shares fascinating facts learnt during his 40-year career as a brain surgeon. He has a deep humanity that resonates throughout * GOOD HOUSEKEEPING * Transgressive, wry and confessional, sporadically joyful and occasionally doleful. It is in many ways a more revealing work than Do No Harm, and the revelations it offers are a good deal more personal...Marsh skilfully articulates the subtleties and frustrations of neurosurgery - but there is a deeper examination of death, and an angrier exposition of the shameful betrayal of the NHS by successive generations of politicians...honesty is abundantly apparent here - a quality as rare and commendable in elite surgeons as one suspects it is in memoirists...elegaic but consistently entertaining -- Gavin Francis * GUARDIAN * An enthralling book, is an exhilarating, even thrilling read, a glimpse into a world we hope we may never have to enter * THE ARTS DESK * Fascinating...Marsh paints a vivid picture of the pressures imposed on a surgeon who is quite literally at the cutting edge of modern medicine -- William Hartston * DAILY EXPRESS * [Marsh] is wise and insightful about the balance and confidence, truth and uncertainty faced by doctors...his insights about life, death and professional purpose are irresistible -- Hannah Beckerman * SUNDAY EXPRESS * I particularly relished his descriptions of the anatomy of the brain itself, as well as his can-do accounts of freeing cancerous masses from their baroque architecture - but I enjoyed (if this is the correct word) still more his willingness to delve as fearlessly into his own, troubled being ... accounts of highly undoctorly behaviour that nonetheless confirms Marsh as the man I would most like to have prying open my skull. Perhaps most disarming of all is Marsh's frankness about his own fears of growing older and dying ... should be distributed to every care home in Britain -- Will Self * NEW STATESMAN * A truly extraordinary account. Henry Marsh's honesty and simple pragmatism underpin an amazing life of tantalising curiosity and contact with the most complex organ in the known universe. I often wonder about the physical structure of my own brain, about the bits that work and the bits that don't. I wonder at the minutiae, those microscopic fronds, the fragile fabric of jelly that defines me, and here is a man who has seen it, tweaked it, repaired it and yet still doesn't know it. It is tempting to try and find a magic in the mystery, but in fact this is a celebration of the magnificence of the brain -- Chris Packham Extraordinary...both exhilarating and alarming...harrowing but fascinating...It is a privilege to dance with [Marsh] through these engrossing, revealing pages -- Libby Purves * DAILY MAIL * Emerging from his own brusque acceptance of the inevitability of suffering and death is a deep compassion for his patients and their families. It is fascinating to have [the brain] dissected, and with such psychological and clinical penetration, by someone for whom it is horribly untheoretical and immediate -- Jane O'Grady * LITERARY REVIEW * With charm and black humour ... [Marsh] claims that "handling the brain tells you nothing about life - other than to be dismayed by its fragility", yet few memoirs have more sagacity. Admissions forces the reader to confront death, why we fear it and why we cling on -- Rosamund Urwin * INDEPENDENT i paper * Wonderful...eloquent...a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit -- Adrian Woolfson * FINANCIAL TIMES * Marsh is now almost as celebrated a writer as he is a brain surgeon. This, a sequel to his best-selling memoir Do No Harm, is a frank and provocative meditation on failures in living and dying as he approaches the end of his career in medicine * MAIL ON SUNDAY Summer Books * Henry Marsh's Do No Harm was an award-winning and revelatory look at the daily dilemmas of being a neurosurgeon. This follow-up is a humorous, irascible and opinionated look at his early life, his long career in the NHS and his retirement. Candid and curmudgeonly -- Robbie Millen * THE TIMES Summer Books * [Marsh] is clearly a brilliant neurosurgeon, and a wonderful writer -- Helen Thomson * NEW SCIENTIST * This thoughtful account charting retirement and surgical work in Nepal and Ukraine brims with insights - not only on the fraught nexus of scalpel and brain, but on the complexities of ageing and the pleasures of beekeeping, tree-planting and carpentry -- Barbara Kiser * NATURE * Marsh's second book is a fine undertaking... More reflective than Do No Harm... Admissions is an attempt to place in context the professional life of that first book. He is, at times, disarmingly honest... There are deeply moving moments... On end-of-life care and euthanasia, Marsh is measured and convincing -- George Berridge * TLS * Marsh's commitment to truth-telling makes this a genuinely humbling as well as fascinating read. And, like Do No Harm, it leaves a deep and permanent impression -- Stephanie Cross * THE LADY * The eloquent author of Do No Harm pulls no punches in this moving memoir, in which he reflects candidly on his life, experiences in medicine at home and in impoverished countries, the prospect of retirement ... and death * HUMAN GIVENS JOURNAL * His descriptions of his work there [in Nepal and Ukraine] demonstrate again his gift with both scalpel and pen ...
disarmingly self-effacing and honest * WASHINGTON POST * It feels like a privilege to spend time with Marsh, an exemplary person with lambent emotions whose fearsome skills and hidden fears are a reminder of how exultant, sad, ardent, and swift life really is -- Joshua Rothman * New Yorker * In this unflinchingly honest memoir, retired neurosurgeon Henry Marsh seamlessly intertwines his life experiences and surgical career. He reflects on both what he has learned by probing the brain, and our limited knowledge of mind, from emotions to consciousness -- Mary Craig * NATURE * Despite the human suffering, it is all heroic, strangely uplifting stuff -- Arifa Akbar * THE OBSERVER * Another superb book on brain surgery by Henry Marsh who has psnt his professional life cutting people's heads open...The prose sparkles with wit and intelligence -- William Leith * EVENING STANDARD * [Marsh] interleaves visceral details of brain surgery with childhood memories and moments of impeccably timed comedy * DAILY TELEGRAPH *
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About Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh was one of Britain's foremost brain surgeons, and worked as Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London for thirty years. Since retiring from full-time work in the NHS, he has continued to operate and lecture abroad, in Nepal, Albania and Ukraine. His prize-winning memoir, DO NO HARM, was a SUNDAY TIMES and NEW YORK TIMES bestseller. He has been the subject of two award-winning documentary films, YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HANDS and THE ENGLISH SURGEON. He was made a CBE in 2010.
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Rating details

6,109 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 30% (1,813)
4 40% (2,446)
3 25% (1,502)
2 5% (287)
1 1% (61)
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