Do No Harm
By Henry Marsh
Review by Jade (Medicine)
Do No Harm is the memoir of Henry Marsh (1969, PPE), a leading neurosurgeon who worked more than 40 years in medicine. In his book, he shares his experiences, revealing the highs and lows of his career. Having already decided I wanted to study medicine but also having an interest in neuroscience, I came across Do No Harm in a bookshop during my first year of college. Neurosurgery is a fascinating and developing specialty, offering the chance to “hold someone’s life in your hands”, as Marsh puts it.
I mentioned this book in my personal statement, as I felt it helped me gain a better understanding of the responsibility doctors have along with the potential consequences, preparing me for my university interviews. Coincidentally, Do No Harm was one of the suggested books to read from Univ tutors, and Marsh attended Univ (though he didn’t study medicine here!).
While there are some medical terms mentioned, including the nearly unpronounceable names of brain structures, the book is easy to read, engaging and at times moving. One part I found interesting was the story of the work Marsh has done in Ukraine, performing neurosurgery on the patients there since 1992. It brought into perspective how the standard of healthcare varies between countries, and the injustice of this. I’ve read Do No Harm again since, and Marsh’s other book Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery. I’d recommend Do No Harm to anyone interested in a career in medicine. It provides an honest insight into the reality of a doctor’s life.
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh