Shapeshifters
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Shapeshifters : A Doctor's Notes on Medicine & Human Change

3.93 (298 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Unreliable bodies and shifting symptoms are all in a day's work for a GP.

In his years of practising, Gavin Francis has seen it all: the promising law student trapped under the spell of anorexia; the bodybuilder whose use of illegal steroids threatens his fertility; the teenager agonising over the perplexing physical dramas of puberty; and the surprisingly upbeat woman growing a horn in the centre of her forehead.

In Shapeshifters he draws on his patients' bodily transformations, both welcome and unwelcome, bringing together case histories and accounts from the history of medicine, art, literature, myth and magic to show how the very essence of being human is change.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 29mm | 489g
  • Wellcome Collection
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • Black and white images throughout
  • 1781257736
  • 9781781257739
  • 405,805

Review Text

Stylish and exhilarating... from a wide-ranging mind and a profound humanity. With warmth and wit, Gavin Francis examines the body's strategies for survival and change, embedding his thoughts in a broad frame of reference from across human culture and history. Each piece is a pleasure to read, and in sum they are inspiring. Hilary Mantel
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Review quote

Stylish and exhilarating... from a wide-ranging mind and a profound humanity. With warmth and wit, Gavin Francis examines the body's strategies for survival and change, embedding his thoughts in a broad frame of reference from across human culture and history. Each piece is a pleasure to read, and in sum they are inspiring. -- Hilary Mantel A wonderful series of meditations - clinical, anthropological, literary and deeply humane - on his patients and their illnesses. -- Henry Marsh In this provocative and important book about our shared future, Francis ranges broadly to describe altered human states and selves. He delves into medical history, and, with equal ease, into medical case studies, to reveal how humans are capable of changing our bodies and minds. -- Siddhartha Mukherjee Wonderful, written with a deep feeling for language. A writer-physician who sees the drama and beauty in human life. -- Annie Dillard Francis's method is to weave together stories from his general practice, his medical training and his travels, with a host of quotes, references and anecdotes from art, literature and history. The result is a rich pleasure. -- James McConnachie * The Sunday Times * Timely, thought-provoking and eloquent... brimming both with warmth and insight, he puts himself among the ranks of physicians with fine pens, including Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, who, for all their learning, retain a deep humility. -- Janice Turner * The Times * As compelling as it is affecting * Scotland on Sunday * Such is the breadth of Francis's interests that Shapeshifters is never less than intellectually energetic -- Brian Dillon * Guardian * [An] enthralling collection of illustrated pieces about human transformation. -- Charlotte Heathcote * Sunday Express * Shapeshifters is beautifully written as well as extremely absorbing -- Susan Flockhart * Sunday Herald * The interweaving of a historical perspective is a highlight of the narrative and adds a richness that makes Shapeshifters such a pleasure to read. -- Fiona Mitchell * The Lancet * Reading these essays is like touring a museum of medical marvels led by the best guide; one with boundless curiosity, a taste for the weird and a deep well of thoughtfulness and knowledge. -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times *
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About Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Costa Prize. He also writes for the Guardian, the Times, London Review of Books and Granta. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and children. Find him on Twitter @gavinfranc and online at www.gavinfrancis.com.

Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death. wellcomecollection.org
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Rating details

298 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 32% (95)
4 39% (115)
3 21% (64)
2 8% (23)
1 0% (1)
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