In his beautifully written prose, Dr Jonathan Reisman - physician, adventure traveller and naturalist - allows readers to navigate their insides like an explorer discovering a new world.
Through his offbeat adventures in healthcare and travel, Reisman discovers new perspectives on the body: a trip to the Alaskan Arctic reveals that fat is not the enemy, but the hero; a stint in the Himalayas uncovers the boundary where the brain ends and the mind begins; and eating a sheep's head in Iceland offers a lesson in empathy. By relating his experiences in far-flung lands and among unique cultures back to the body's inner workings, he shows how our organs live inextricably intertwined lives in an internal ecosystem that reflects the natural world around us.
Reisman's unique perspective on the natural world and his expert wielding of wit ultimately helps us make sense of our lives, our bodies and our world in a way readers have never before imagined.
In this ambitious if uneven debut, physician and naturalist Reisman offers a "behind-the-scenes look at life itself" via an odyssey through the human body. Accompanied by stories from his experience practicing medicine around the world "from a clinic in high-altitude Nepal to an emergency room in Arctic Alaska" each chapter considers a different part of human anatomy to highlight "how those parts compose a whole." Rather than feature case studies of the sensational oddities, Reisman focuses on the more pedestrian cases that make up the bulk of his career as a generalist such as "battling the fallout of the throat's flawed design" in caring for a patient with pneumonia, or walking a middle-aged man through his first heart attack. A particulary striking chapter on feces sees Reisman bluntly challenges taboos surrounding human excrement with the story of a patient whose debilitating diarrhea was treated with an experimental fecal transplant. Notwithstanding the deep curiosity driving his narrative, though, Reisman often slips into clich d musings for instance, in an essay on genitalia, he concludes with his own child's birth, making the trite observation that "nothing would ever be the same." Though its author is clearly well traveled, this work mostly treads familiar territory.