Category : Book Reviews

Losing Control

Losing Control - Heart, Guts & Steel

(This is an excerpt from my new book, “Heart, Guts & Steel: The Making of an Indian Surgeon“)

A few minutes later, I was in the operating room, making an incision into his belly. It was full of clots. Clearly, the innocent looking stab had gone deep, slicing into vital organs.

When I cleared away the clots, we saw the problem. The knife had pierced his gall bladder, a tiny bag-like organ beneath the liver that stored bile. The wound had gone through it, barely missing the liver to stop milli-meters short of the largest vein in the body. Just a little deeper, and the patient wouldn’t have made it to the hospital alive!

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Heart, Guts & Steel - The Making of an Indian Surgeon

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Book Review : How To Create A Mind

How To Create A Mind - Ray Kurzweil

I’m reading Ray Kurzweil’s “How To Create a Mind“.

Back in medical college, I spent an incredible amount of time reading Snell’s ‘Neuroanatomy’ to understand the structure and function of the human brain.

It’s a myriad of nerve connections, with different bits being hooked up to others, some nearby, others almost halfway across the brain. What’s more, there are redundancies galore. And keeping track of what links to what, through diagrams that showed sweeps of colored arrows pointing both ways, was mind boggling.

I read all of this, not because it’s so fascinating, but because we had an exam to pass at the end of a semester. About the lateral geniculate nucleus, or the caudate nucleus, or the red nucleus. And the insula, colliculi or corpus callosum. Without quite understanding how relevant, useful or practical it would all be.

It wasn’t. At all.

For the next twenty five years, I have never once had to use ANY of that information in my medical practice!

So, was it all a waste?

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Book Review: Koh-i-Noor

Koh-i-noor by William Dalrymple

I just finished William Dalrymple‘s “Koh-i-Noor“, a history of the world’s most famous diamond, co-authored with Anita Anand.

I’ve been fascinated by the jewel known as the Mountain of Fire, and so found the book quite a gripping read. The side stories of people who wore, guarded or were involved with the Koh-i-Noor over the years made for interesting entertainment.

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Book Review: Cutting For Stone

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

Near the beginning there’s this quote:

“Life is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look to the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.”

I enjoyed “Cutting For Stone” just a little extra – for two unique reasons. One, because I’m a surgeon. Two, because the author is from my medical school.

A very good writer remembers those easy-to-forget feelings, fears and uncomfortable points of view s/he held during carefree youth, and dredges them up to adorn fictional characters with.

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