"Adventures in Human Being, with its deft mix of the clinical and the lyrical, is a triumph of the eloquent brain and the compassionate heart."--Wall Street Journal
We assume we know our bodies intimately, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory, an enigma of bone and muscle, neurons and synapses. How many of us understand the way seizures affect the brain, how the heart is connected to well-being, or the why the foot holds the key to our humanity? In Adventures in Human Being, award-winning author Gavin Francis leads readers on a journey into the human body, offering a guide to its inner workings and a celebration of its marvels. 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 living and in dying. 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.
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."