Drawing on his experiences as a surgeon, ER specialist, and family physician, Francis blends stories from the clinic with episodes from medical history, philosophy, and literature to describe the body in sickness and in health, in life and in death. When assessing a young woman with paralysis of the face, Francis reflects on the age-old difficulty artists have had in capturing human expression. A veteran of the war in Iraq suffers a shoulder injury that Homer first described three millennia ago in the Iliad. And when a gardener pricks her finger on a dirty rose thorn, her case of bacterial blood poisoning brings to mind the comatose sleeping beauties in the fairy tales we learn as children.
At its heart, "Adventures in Human Being" is a meditation on what it means to be human. Poetic, eloquent, and profoundly perceptive, this book will transform the way you view your body.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Scottish physician Francis (Empire Antarctica) couples his wealth of medical experience with his humanistic perspective to produce a user’s guide to the human body, easily conveying the sense of awe that arises from his intimate knowledge of how bodies work. Each of his 18 chapters focuses on a specific body part and includes an intricate blend of case studies, underlying anatomy and physiology, historical perspectives, and ties to artistic work. The package is a joy to read and demonstrates that the best of medicine operates in the intersection between science and the humanities. “When language is called ‘clinical’ it is usually to imply that it is without emotion,” Francis notes. “Yet clinics are often awash in emotional transactions.” Such emotion can be seen throughout the book, but it is most striking in his chapter on the breast, in which he describes how the concept of “healing” needs to be envisioned broadly. His skill as a writer and an observer of human nature become obvious when he is able to make a chapter entitled “Large Bowel & Rectum” thoroughly engaging. Francis writes with humility and makes the point that being a good medical practitioner is not “about dramatically saving lives, but quietly, methodically, trying to postpone death.” Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)