Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum Info

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Reviews for Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum:

5

Dec 26, 2016

This book wasn't a blog but it might as well have been. It is a series of essays on different body parts, from the head down. The author concentrates on the medical, with anecdotes, always interesting, but also brings in what history, mythology, different cultures and even literature have to say about that part of the anatomy. It reminds me a little of F. González-Crussí, especially Notes of an Anatomist, but González-Crussí's meditations were more deeply philosophical and beautifully, This book wasn't a blog but it might as well have been. It is a series of essays on different body parts, from the head down. The author concentrates on the medical, with anecdotes, always interesting, but also brings in what history, mythology, different cultures and even literature have to say about that part of the anatomy. It reminds me a little of F. González-Crussí, especially Notes of an Anatomist, but González-Crussí's meditations were more deeply philosophical and beautifully, classically written. That isn't to say that Gavin Francis can't write, he can, this is a really good book, but not one that will go down in literature as a classic.

Rant on disappeared books and librarians who want to make things comfortable for white folk (view spoiler)[WTF is going on? I added this book and read it about six weeks ago. It should still be in currently reading but has been deleted from my bookshelves. No point in writing about it in Feedback, I either just get ignored or 'we need more details please contact Support'. Contacting Support gets some cut and pasted anodyne reply as I've complained about this issue time and again.

I can even 'prove' it in that I have books on my exported bookshelves files that are no longer on my GR shelves, some even have likes/comments and some people actually remember.

So what is happening to these disappeared books? I believe it is librarians doing whatever it is that causes this. I don't do any Librarian stuff any more unless it affects my books or I see something really egregious. But you can't argue with the Librarians, nor will the Chief Librarian or Support help out there. I've had a long. ongoing battle with GR Librarians and Support about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn being combined with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Robotic Edition as they say the books are similar enough to be the same book.

The authors of this crap 'robotic edition' say they changed all the people into robots so that teachers wouldn't have any problem with the white boys (Tom and Huckleberry) and the slave (Jim). I can only presume that all these librarians and support staff are White and do not want the evils of slavery as committed by White people to be embarrassing to teachers who think like them. Mark Twain didn't think this way and this White-washing is appalling.

But why would Adventures in Human Being have been deleted from my bookshelves? (hide spoiler)] ...more
5

Jul 04, 2015

"The book is series about the body in sickness and in health, in living, and in dying."

A very beautiful book... magnificent work of Human Anatomy, Physiology, History,
Philosophy, Literature, Nature, Art, and an informational guide about the body. We take a journey with Dr. Gavin Francis
who shares with us his experience as a doctor... sharing real case studies of ways
the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia.

In one of my favorite books of short stories for this year- 2015. "The book is series about the body in sickness and in health, in living, and in dying."

A very beautiful book... magnificent work of Human Anatomy, Physiology, History,
Philosophy, Literature, Nature, Art, and an informational guide about the body. We take a journey with Dr. Gavin Francis
who shares with us his experience as a doctor... sharing real case studies of ways
the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia.

In one of my favorite books of short stories for this year- 2015. "The Wonder Garden", by Lauren Acampora... there was a story about a man curious to know if it were possible
for a person to touch their own brain. (such a good story)... but I've been forever more curious
myself about the brain....& the physical handling of it myself - since then.
Somehow, I had it 'wired' in my thinking that a doctor working on the brain must require ten times more 'dexterous' abilities than any other type of doctor ... so I found this very interesting to read:
"People tend to think of brain surgeons as being very dexterous", the neurosurgeon
replied, "but it's the plastic surgeons and microvascular surgeons, who do that meticulous stuff". He indicated the slide on the wall: a patients brain with with an aerial array of steel
rods, clamps, and wires. "The rest of us just go gardening."

Going through the body.. We travel from the brain...head: eyes, face,ears...learning about the
Different developments with artificial lenses, palsy of the face muscles, vertigo...etc..
The chest: heart, lungs, breasts, ....our upper limb... Shoulder & arms... Wrists & hands.

It was fascinating to me ....( awful too)... when an injured motorcyclist was rushed into
emergency...and reading the entire process. The man not only broke his shoulder..,but his right arm was paralyzed. The care...conversation... treatment.. between Dr Gavin and patient had me
hanging off the seat of my chair... ( as I struggle to move my right foot from an ankle replacement surgery 2.5 months ago-- and my husband who still can't make a fist with his right hand yet-- after once having 11 pins inserted to fix broken bones.. With another surgery on the way...YES... It was all a little fascinating to read.

Dr. Gavin also talked about the book The Illiad... saying what an accurate observer of anatomy
the author was .... Some people called him a "batterfield medic". (injured warriors)....
which then lead into his sharing about his training with military doctors---( for which he had always had his suspicions about), having studied emergency medicine himself and as a GP...
But as I read more... saw how his respect for military doctors was elevated... so was mine.
It was the military doctors that taught him 'hands-on' trauma surgeries. AMEN for that!!

Kidneys, liver, the intestines, pelvis, childbirth....etc etc...this book is packed filled with a
little something of interest to anyone with a body.

Dr. Gavin Francis's humanity so very lovely....
This book too!
...more
5

Mar 14, 2019

Absolutely magnificent. A stirring, stimulating read and deeply engrossing. Dr. Francis draws on a wealth of experience without coming across as bragging, and invites consideration of what the human experience is all about with sage observations of the various facets of our human anatomy, the parts that make us work and, more intriguingly, what happens when those parts don't work. It is by turns philosophical and whimsical, vacillating from profound to lighthearted with an almost poetic delivery Absolutely magnificent. A stirring, stimulating read and deeply engrossing. Dr. Francis draws on a wealth of experience without coming across as bragging, and invites consideration of what the human experience is all about with sage observations of the various facets of our human anatomy, the parts that make us work and, more intriguingly, what happens when those parts don't work. It is by turns philosophical and whimsical, vacillating from profound to lighthearted with an almost poetic delivery informed by years of clinical training. The ties between anatomy and the humanities are explored with a refined dignity that impresses and excites, beautifully showing our dual nature: body and soul intertwined.

5 stars out of 5. Of particular interest to me was the chapter about the shoulder and arms which shares an incredible walkthrough of The Illiad's accuracy with regard to battlefield wounds and trauma. ...more
2

Dec 16, 2016

In the 1980s, Picador brought out a bunch of books featuring anecdotes about the human body by the Mexican physician F. Gonzalez-Crussi. I lapped them up. Apart from the suspicious overuse of the word "guerdon," the stories were well told, interesting, educational, and sometimes a little awe-inspiring. Gavin Francis's book follows in the same tradition, but without any of the enthusiasm. These are drily recounted chapters with the necessary exhibitions of erudition but none of the wit or charm In the 1980s, Picador brought out a bunch of books featuring anecdotes about the human body by the Mexican physician F. Gonzalez-Crussi. I lapped them up. Apart from the suspicious overuse of the word "guerdon," the stories were well told, interesting, educational, and sometimes a little awe-inspiring. Gavin Francis's book follows in the same tradition, but without any of the enthusiasm. These are drily recounted chapters with the necessary exhibitions of erudition but none of the wit or charm of Gonzalez-Crussi's books. I may have picked up one or two novel facts about the human body but I don't think they'll remain with me for long, so mundane were they. Gonzalez-Crussi, by contrast, even made the rectum sound majestic. ...more
4

Jun 05, 2015

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xd44c

Description: Gavin Francis leads us round a cultural map of the body - an adventure in what it means to be human. Taking in health and illness, and offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the unique engineering of the foot.

Drawing on his own experiences as a physician and writer, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over millennia.

1/5: Gavin begins with BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xd44c

Description: Gavin Francis leads us round a cultural map of the body - an adventure in what it means to be human. Taking in health and illness, and offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the unique engineering of the foot.

Drawing on his own experiences as a physician and writer, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over millennia.

1/5: Gavin begins with the moment, age 19, when he first held a human brain.

2/5: Francis has dissected many human faces during medical training, and as a demonstrator of anatomy, but he has never lost the sense of privilege that doing so brings. Our faces are key to our human identity - when faces are available, we pay more attention to them than to any part of the visual world. When our ability to use our facial muscles to convey our emotions is harmed, as in Bell's palsy, it can be socially devastating. But even when a face is damaged, it's still vital to our sense of self.

3/5: A serious motorbike crash brings a young soldier to A&E with a badly injured shoulder. His arm is paralysed, and may not recover.

Since Homer wrote the Iliad almost three thousand years ago, military strategists have understood the power of wounds to the brachial plexus, the network of nerves behind our collarbones. Our 'arms' are both parts of our body, and weapons of war.

4/5: The liver is a mysterious organ - essential to life, multifarious in its actions, its tissue unusual in being able to regenerate.

Ancient cultures used the livers of sacrificed animals to predict events; Biblical kings planned wars according to what the liver foretold. Livers appear in the proverbs of eastern Europe and in the folk tales gathered by the Brothers Grimm. And when a young gardener scratches her finger on a thorn and falls into a coma, it might be her liver which saves her life.

5/5: His journey ends at the foot - a marvel of engineering often overlooked by anatomists and medical students.

It's thanks to the arches of our feet that we stepped into our humanity more than two million years ago.

Read by Bill Paterson ...more
4

Jul 10, 2016

Gavin Francis is a surgeon, an emergency room specialist, and a family physician. He takes the reader on a quick tour of the human body, from head to toe. He blends together anecdotes from his personal experience with literature, science, and history. This is not a comprehensive guide to human anatomy. Each chapter is but a cursory glance at some body part. But, as a result, the book is highly entertaining and engaging. Francis avoids excessive jargon, and brings his personal touch to each Gavin Francis is a surgeon, an emergency room specialist, and a family physician. He takes the reader on a quick tour of the human body, from head to toe. He blends together anecdotes from his personal experience with literature, science, and history. This is not a comprehensive guide to human anatomy. Each chapter is but a cursory glance at some body part. But, as a result, the book is highly entertaining and engaging. Francis avoids excessive jargon, and brings his personal touch to each subject.

The book is filled with surprising facts that would make for great party conversations. For example, until the late 1700’s, it was believed that human conception required simultaneous male and female orgasms. The liver is the only organ that can be regenerated, if part of it is lost. Francis also helped instill in me a deep respect for military doctors. They are under intense pressure, yet their experience has been very helpful to civilian doctors as well.

I also enjoyed the numerous links Francis drew to classical literature and folk tales. For example, the descriptions of injuries related in the Iliad are very accurate. As another example, he relates a serious infection a woman got from brush with a thorn bush with the tale of Sleeping Beauty.

You will learn some amazing facts about the human body from this book, even though you won’t get a coherent understanding of it. In addition, you will be entertained by beautiful writing and personal observations that show a deeply sensitive writer and doctor.
...more
4

Nov 23, 2015

Exceptional poetic, lyrical (quotes too by past poets and philosophers included)detailing of the human body. Human body systems are equated to geographic shapes and movements of wider nature through the treatments of their own special workings. Dr. Francis starts with the brain and moves on down to the last chapter on feet /toes.

Lovely, peaceful, respect of awe poise is rare and exquisite! I've never come across something this aesthetic "light" let alone anything with this literary approach for Exceptional poetic, lyrical (quotes too by past poets and philosophers included)detailing of the human body. Human body systems are equated to geographic shapes and movements of wider nature through the treatments of their own special workings. Dr. Francis starts with the brain and moves on down to the last chapter on feet /toes.

Lovely, peaceful, respect of awe poise is rare and exquisite! I've never come across something this aesthetic "light" let alone anything with this literary approach for ANY scientific or medical information book, treatise, dissertation. Passages that would fit more easily into emotive poems flow with adoration for the form. And within each tale is a different patient whose illness or condition reflects a difficulty within the pertinent detailed system.

The doctor's gentleness! Gentle as can be managed under such perimeters for pain, strife, fear, joy or encompassing acceptance for ordeal or future outcome.

This might be appreciated more by those who have little medical detail memory, but maybe not. It could be that those who work within these very spaces would love this one just as much.

My favorite was the neck/shoulder chapter and his Iliad / Homer interface.

This author has lead the most unusual adventurer life. He's traveled with his work and also changed entire medical venues more than a few times. He is the living antithesis of the Hilary Mantel quip re his profession. Very unusual person, quite beyond unusual doctor as his sensitivity is also literally acute.

Very interesting read- and highly recommend. ...more
5

May 20, 2015

I reviewed this book on Amazon's UK site. It's worth noting that the book, and my review, refer to the UK's National Health Service (the NHS), which makes many mistakes, but without it millions of lives in Britain would be seriously affected. For all its UK 'bias' (Dr, Francis lives and practices in Scotland, it is a book that will cross all boundaries and cultures, and I urge you to read it.

Medicine men...I never quite know what to make of those I meet. Last year, in the early hours of an April I reviewed this book on Amazon's UK site. It's worth noting that the book, and my review, refer to the UK's National Health Service (the NHS), which makes many mistakes, but without it millions of lives in Britain would be seriously affected. For all its UK 'bias' (Dr, Francis lives and practices in Scotland, it is a book that will cross all boundaries and cultures, and I urge you to read it.

Medicine men...I never quite know what to make of those I meet. Last year, in the early hours of an April morning, I sat alone against the rear wall and watched a young doctor sympathetically settle my wife into a bed in the intensive care unit. The ward was quiet. Away to my left was a small peacock of a man in glittering waistcoat that looked cut from a priest's vestments. I thought he was wearing spats, but as he approached, head up, better to see down his nose, I saw they were two tone, like golf shoes.

The young doctor was telling the nurse what medication my wife needed when the peacock, still ten strides away, called out 'No!' And he took over, without even acknowledging his young colleague. I later discovered that this peacock of a surgeon had told my sister to 'get yourself home and empty your bowels', when she presented with severe abdominal pain. Three days later he was cutting cancer from her bowel.

Then, as my wife's condition deteriorated, I was introduced to another surgeon, a man of humility and humanity, a man who did not patronise as he answered me straight:

'What's the prognosis for my wife, please?'
'The next 24 hours will be crucial'
''Worst case scenario?'
'We have had informal discussions of putting your wife on a ventilator.'
'What happens then?'
'...it is very difficult to come back from'

Since then, I've taken a much greater interest in the way the body works and the way the minds of those who choose medicine as a profession work. Gavin Francis's book not only taught me about the body, but it gave me back some sanity and balance in the judgement of others. The drama of saving lives, of making decisions, of being 'somebody', attracts the peacocks, but what a salve it is to find that it has an irresistible pull too for people like Gavin Francis. You will be in turns transfixed and enchanted by Dr Francis's gradual uncloaking of the human body, not least by his skill in portraying without 'big words'.

You'll learn not only about the bone and blood and meat of which we're made, but of how others, long dead, saw it - the Greeks, the Romans, the philosophers, and the great writers. And all of it as seamless as the body itself. You are not jerked from place to place, but led smoothly along with the expertise of a born writer as well as a great doctor. You will watch with enchanted horror the rapid deterioration of a dark-haired young woman whose brush with a rose thorn brought her long lost mother to her intensive care bedside. And while the mother waits with her taped-eyed, tubed and wired unconscious child, Gavin Francis links her story beautifully with that of Snow White and the beliefs of older days.

John McEnroe's wife, the rock star, Patti Smith, finally discouraged him from trying to be a top guitarist by asking him, 'What are the chances of god giving you the talent to be the greatest tennis player in the world, and then adding some more to make you the greatest rock guitarist?'

Nobody could ask such a question of Dr Francis, a man blessed with the ability to be the finest of medicine men, alongside a sublime gift as a writer and a toucher of the human heart, in a manner way beyond the physical. I suspect the main wish of anyone finishing this book will be that Dr Francis would add them to his list patients.

I am off now to buy the other books of Gavin Francis. Happily, my wife will be able to read them too. After three weeks of lying with nine tubes sewn into her neck feeding her all the nutrients her body needed, her pancreas survived (well, all but the tail). That tail died. I suspect this tale, so wonderfully told by Gavin Francis, will outlive many of us. ...more
3

May 16, 2016

More reviews at TheBibliophage.com.

Physician Gavin Francis truly takes readers on Adventures in Human Being. From stem to stern, tip to toes, Francis picks a vital part of anatomy and verbally dissects it. Its a fascinating premise for anyone who enjoys information about their body, or who is just beginning the learning adventure.

Francis organizes his essays in seven sections: Brain, Head, Chest, Upper Limb, Abdomen, Pelvis, and Lower Limb. Each essay takes a particular topic related to a vital More reviews at TheBibliophage.com.

Physician Gavin Francis truly takes readers on Adventures in Human Being. From stem to stern, tip to toes, Francis picks a vital part of anatomy and verbally dissects it. It’s a fascinating premise for anyone who enjoys information about their body, or who is just beginning the learning adventure.

Francis organizes his essays in seven sections: Brain, Head, Chest, Upper Limb, Abdomen, Pelvis, and Lower Limb. Each essay takes a particular topic related to a vital organ or organs, including patient stories, and those from Francis’ doctoring experiences.

As much philosophical as it is anatomical, Adventures in Human Being draws from various cultures and traditions as well. Francis may discuss stigmata, while detailing injuries to a patient’s hands. Or he’ll present the womb as holding within it the fine line between life and death. His approach is unique, and eminently readable.

I listened to the audiobook, with excellent narration by Thomas Judd. While it’s not a reference book, I think I’ll refer back to it as medical events happen in our family. I may even track down a print copy so as to have the ability to ponder elements of the essays in a different way.

This is a book about the human body that’s as much about being a human as it is about the body itself. Highly recommend for science nerds and anyone with a body! ...more
5

Aug 01, 2017

Sensational. A moment of silence for a work of not only literature, but also science. The way the two opposing elements of literature and science intertwined is noteworthy. The core of this book, which was a series of stories as Francis journeys the reader from cranium to calcaneum touched me heart and soul. It is a book that I could always go back to, reading it was no rush because somehow it resembled me, and that way I was sure relativity and interest would never be lost as long as I Sensational. A moment of silence for a work of not only literature, but also science. The way the two opposing elements of literature and science intertwined is noteworthy. The core of this book, which was a series of stories as Francis journeys the reader from cranium to calcaneum touched me heart and soul. It is a book that I could always go back to, reading it was no rush because somehow it resembled me, and that way I was sure relativity and interest would never be lost as long as I breathed. I can't wait to reread it in the future and extract newer meaning, it truly is brim with life. ...more
5

Feb 16, 2017

Rare for a medical professional to be able to talk so poetically about the human body. A great mix of history, philosophy and anatomy intertwined with tales from the "front line". Well done to Dr Francis on taking the sterility out of the medical world.
5

May 25, 2016

Very much a fantastic journey. Every doctor has tales to tell and these are fascinating. I really enjoyed reading about ECT, DSH, and seeing a kidney come to life. Easy to read and full of awesome facts!! Highly recommend!!
3

Sep 10, 2017

Gavin Francis book is basically a series of essays about the human body and how it works (and how it breaks), from the head down. Its pretty readable, with anecdotes from Francis time as a doctor, though its not something that grabbed me as much as, say, Henry Marshs Do No Harm. Actually, its fading a bit from memory already. Its certainly readable and filled some time during an epic plane and train ride from Canada through Amsterdam to Belgium; its not revelatory, or amazingly written. Im a Gavin Francis’ book is basically a series of essays about the human body and how it works (and how it breaks), from the head down. It’s pretty readable, with anecdotes from Francis’ time as a doctor, though it’s not something that grabbed me as much as, say, Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm. Actually, it’s fading a bit from memory already. It’s certainly readable and filled some time during an epic plane and train ride from Canada through Amsterdam to Belgium; it’s not revelatory, or amazingly written. I’m a little surprised, though, at how ‘meh’ I feel about it in retrospect.

Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. ...more
4

Jun 21, 2015

Like Oliver Sacks, Gavin Francis has written a book for a non-medical audience that explores anatomical subjects in highly accessible manner, with minimal jargon and many real-life examples that are as interesting as they are insightful. In a profession that requires its practitioners to be clinical and detached from the patients they treat so intimately, the author shows thoughtfulness and sensitivity in his dealings with those under his care. Through this head to foot exploration of the human Like Oliver Sacks, Gavin Francis has written a book for a non-medical audience that explores anatomical subjects in highly accessible manner, with minimal jargon and many real-life examples that are as interesting as they are insightful. In a profession that requires its practitioners to be clinical and detached from the patients they treat so intimately, the author shows thoughtfulness and sensitivity in his dealings with those under his care. Through this head to foot exploration of the human landscape, Gavin’s beautifully written prose leaves the reader with a deeper appreciation of the complexity and fragility of our bodily terrain. ...more
4

Jun 17, 2018

Adventures in Human Being was a quick and interesting read. Perfect for those wanting either to pick up a non-fiction book but dont really know where to start; or for those interested in human anatomy but want to read something that is light and sufficiently brief. Each chapter outlines a different part of the body, and begins from head to toe, although you can read the chapters in any order. The book is written by an experienced doctor who has worked in a number of different areas within the Adventures in Human Being was a quick and interesting read. Perfect for those wanting either to pick up a non-fiction book but don’t really know where to start; or for those interested in human anatomy but want to read something that is light and sufficiently brief. Each chapter outlines a different part of the body, and begins from head to toe, although you can read the chapters in any order. The book is written by an experienced doctor who has worked in a number of different areas within the medical field, but now mostly practices as a family doctor. His chapters describe not only the facts and functions of a body part, but also his own accounts of instances where he has witnessed or been involved in surgery or medical examinations. He also describes ‘folk lore’ or ‘original’ medical thoughts/examinations/treatments regarding the body and its ailments, across history. The pages don’t fill you will technical jargon either, and Gavin Francis’ writing is both enlightening and humorous, and was a delight to read. ...more
4

Jun 07, 2016

'Adventures in Human Being' are a collection of interesting vignettes about the human body by a practicing physician. In eighteen chapters Gavin Francis takes us on a journey from our heads to our feet, explaining through a representative case history of an actual patient how a body organ or system works, adding to the story the often fanciful and metaphysical guesses of physicians in earlier civilizations. This is a very respectful and amusing exploration of our facial nerves, lungs, livers, 'Adventures in Human Being' are a collection of interesting vignettes about the human body by a practicing physician. In eighteen chapters Gavin Francis takes us on a journey from our heads to our feet, explaining through a representative case history of an actual patient how a body organ or system works, adding to the story the often fanciful and metaphysical guesses of physicians in earlier civilizations. This is a very respectful and amusing exploration of our facial nerves, lungs, livers, breasts, kidneys, hips, shoulders and feet.

I share the author's opinion about how wondrous the physical workings of our bodies are to discover - and how delicious were the mistaken conclusions of observers of the body in the past.

The interplay of a body-part function and cultural beliefs is always fascinating. Myths such as the one about the Greek Titan Prometheus on having his liver eaten every day by an eagle as a punishment from the god Zeus, only to have the liver grow back every night describes a regenerative ability of the liver which is true in fact, excepting Prometheus' immortality. Alas, our livers are not quite so robust with longevity, but they do tend to grow back if not too seriously injured. Even more fascinating, to me, was a cultural belief women needed to be brought to an orgasm before conception was possible -a belief leading to medical prescriptions of the use of vibrators until the 19th century. Alas, men no longer take such care in procreation today.

Not many of the stories are cause for a titter, gentle reader, but they all are very interesting and many are a reminder of our humanity, nonetheless. The author writes very well, and he has an ability to select the most salient fact of interest for laypersons such as myself. I enjoyed 'Adventures in Human Being' very much. ...more
5

Jul 25, 2016

A Scottish GP introduces human anatomy to the public. This was an easy read or listen with lots of interesting stories about anatomy and medicine, structured system by system. Clearly presented, entertaining, and engaging. Not a huge amount of depth or comprehensiveness, but everything that was here was good.
4

Nov 07, 2015

Brilliantly written. Manages to marry medicine with the arts and many things in between.
5

Oct 14, 2017

Written by a doctor, a review of the human body from the perspective of someone who tries to heal it (in the very mundane, 21st-century, European medical sense). It proceeds from top to bottom with little details, explanations of anatomy, reminiscences from education at the Edinburgh University, and many quotes from various sources (including many from Classical authors, which I found endearing). It reads well, it's rather short, and it's very interesting. My only question is how the author Written by a doctor, a review of the human body from the perspective of someone who tries to heal it (in the very mundane, 21st-century, European medical sense). It proceeds from top to bottom with little details, explanations of anatomy, reminiscences from education at the Edinburgh University, and many quotes from various sources (including many from Classical authors, which I found endearing). It reads well, it's rather short, and it's very interesting. My only question is how the author juggles his medical practice with everything else that he does (he also traveled as a doctor in Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and wrote books about that, too) — but I hope to ask him personally in Krasnoyarsk. ...more
2

Mar 06, 2018

Clunky when attempting to be literary or philosophical, but very interesting anecdotes about a variety of patients, medical procedures, and the wonders of the body. At one point, Francis talks about people who can 'wink with both eyes' and it serves as a good example of how his lesser abilities in the former field can obscure our appreciation of his clear expertise in the latter. Another thread that annoyed me slightly was the impression he gives of himself- he is quite clearly our hero and Clunky when attempting to be literary or philosophical, but very interesting anecdotes about a variety of patients, medical procedures, and the wonders of the body. At one point, Francis talks about people who can 'wink with both eyes' and it serves as a good example of how his lesser abilities in the former field can obscure our appreciation of his clear expertise in the latter. Another thread that annoyed me slightly was the impression he gives of himself- he is quite clearly our hero and teacher from the essays. Never a misstep, always there with the textbook perfect comments for patients. Worth a read for the facts it shares presented in layman's terms. ...more
5

Jan 13, 2016

Dr. Franciss book of essays takes one on a fascinating anatomical cooks tourliterally from head to toe. The book uses patient case histories, tales from med school, great moments in medical history, and even references to art and pop culture to intrigue the reader with the awesome nature of the human body. This isnt the kind of book that tries to tell one everything there is to know on a subject. Rather it drills deep on specific subjects, but with humor and readability. While the book examines Dr. Francis’s book of essays takes one on a fascinating anatomical cook’s tour—literally from head to toe. The book uses patient case histories, tales from med school, great moments in medical history, and even references to art and pop culture to intrigue the reader with the awesome nature of the human body. This isn’t the kind of book that tries to tell one everything there is to know on a subject. Rather it drills deep on specific subjects, but with humor and readability. While the book examines specific issues pertaining to the body part under consideration, it gives the layman reader the necessary background to comprehend even the most complex topics, often through interesting factoids.

In 18 chapters divided into seven parts by regions of the body, one will learn about topics such as: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the almost ancient art of cataract surgery, botoxing of Bell’s Palsy patients, how the Epley manoeuver is used to seemingly miraculously cure vertigo through snappy head movements, why Renaissance thinkers thought the soul resided in the lips, why having one’s blood circulated pulselessly causes problems, how a “Brachial stun” immobilizes an arm, why suicidal wrist slashers rarely succeed, where the nail goes in a proper crucifixion, how kidneys became the gift that keeps giving, how a scratch on the hand almost cost a gardener her life and what her liver did to save her, why your bowel movements matter, how fetoliths (i.e. “stone babies”) come to reside in the abdomens of older women, why--in some cultures--it’s necessary to eat the afterbirth while others insist on burying it under the house, why the hip’s blood supply is lacking, and how the foot is really more specialized and consequential to human existence than our hands and their well-publicized opposable thumbs.

My wife got me this book after seeing it on the list of the best books of 2015 put out by “The Economist” magazine. It was an excellent choice and it moved it quickly to the front of my reading list. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in science, medicine, anatomy, physiology, or the human body.
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4

Jul 19, 2017

I listened to this on audible, and the narration was fine. I tend to enjoy nonfiction books more in audio than print format.

This started a little slow for me, but it became more interesting as the book progressed. I wasn't too keen on the literary references and some of the historical information at first, but then it became a bit more interesting. The book was set up in sections starting a the head and ending with the feet. While there wasn't a lot of new medical information, I did learn some I listened to this on audible, and the narration was fine. I tend to enjoy nonfiction books more in audio than print format.

This started a little slow for me, but it became more interesting as the book progressed. I wasn't too keen on the literary references and some of the historical information at first, but then it became a bit more interesting. The book was set up in sections starting a the head and ending with the feet. While there wasn't a lot of new medical information, I did learn some things here and there. I did enjoy listening to the case studies and their application to the particular body part under discussion.

There was some humor in the book; I LOL during the rectum discussion when a patient's x-ray was stolen (I won't spoil it, but it is good!!!). I also realized that perhaps I shouldn't be listening to the placenta part during my lunch hour; as I was eating my lunch and listening to the book, the author was discussing cultures where placenta was eaten for various reasons. ...more
4

Apr 12, 2016

When I picked up this book, I was expecting something like Francis Larson's Severed - an examination of body parts in terms of their anatomy, and their representation in art and culture. That's certainly how it sells itself, and being involved with the Wellcome Collection, I certainly thought that was the case.

And when the book actually fulfils that, it does it very well. When Francis focuses on the body part in question, his writing is eloquent, his examples are relevant, and the accompanying When I picked up this book, I was expecting something like Francis Larson's Severed - an examination of body parts in terms of their anatomy, and their representation in art and culture. That's certainly how it sells itself, and being involved with the Wellcome Collection, I certainly thought that was the case.

And when the book actually fulfils that, it does it very well. When Francis focuses on the body part in question, his writing is eloquent, his examples are relevant, and the accompanying anatomical illustrations provide a useful point of interest.

That said, I think this book is, in some ways, more of a memoir of the author's working life than it is a tour-de-force of medical non-fiction. More than one of the chapters is devoted more to a case history than to a consideration of a particular body part, as though Francis is working through some kind of trauma or guilt. Interesting, yes, but valuable? I'm not sure.

It's worth a read but expect a lot of personal stories on the way. ...more
5

Jan 09, 2015

A fascinating journey (head to foot, naturally) through the human body.

Gavin Francis has drawn on a wide range of texts which enrich his writing on the body: poetry, fairy tale, philosophy as well as historical sources. In other hands, this could be heavy going, however he has a light touch and the text is never a struggle to get through.

I liked the balance between the lyrical and the matter-of-fact. Francis manages to de-mystify the body and its functions (and failings) while also encouraging A fascinating journey (head to foot, naturally) through the human body.

Gavin Francis has drawn on a wide range of texts which enrich his writing on the body: poetry, fairy tale, philosophy as well as historical sources. In other hands, this could be heavy going, however he has a light touch and the text is never a struggle to get through.

I liked the balance between the lyrical and the matter-of-fact. Francis manages to de-mystify the body and its functions (and failings) while also encouraging a sense of fascination and wonder. He is never cold and distant (although can be clinical!), instead he celebrates the life-long relationship we have with our bodies and how that impacts on how we interact with the world around us, particularly through art.

Thinking about your body and how it works can be scary (at least for me with my hypochondriac tendencies). This book doesn't hide the fact that things can go wrong, and badly, but Francis' clear, compassionate tone somehow it makes it seem less frightening. ...more
4

Jun 24, 2017

Reading this book was like taking an exclusive tour of the universe beneath our skin. The author examines every part of our body from head to toes and combining his own medical experience as a doctor into it with a blend of mythology and literature. I particularly liked the chapter on blindness, in which he used Jorge Luis Borges whom some of the readers may have already been familiar with, as a literary example by exploring his blindness which wasnt regarded as a terrible thing, in terms of Reading this book was like taking an exclusive tour of the universe beneath our skin. The author examines every part of our body from head to toes and combining his own medical experience as a doctor into it with a blend of mythology and literature. I particularly liked the chapter on blindness, in which he used Jorge Luis Borges whom some of the readers may have already been familiar with, as a literary example by exploring his blindness which wasn’t regarded as a terrible thing, in terms of helping him to create literature through his imagination. Instead of laden the book with medical jargon, he chose to approach each organ in our anatomy with a sense humour tinged with familiarity, in order to emphasize the wonderful uniqueness and complexities, which human body possesses and illustrates what weaknesses we’re biologically programmed to have in return for these abilities. It’s a magnificent exploration of human condition and our anatomy.
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