PositiveThe Wall Street JournalUsing a panoply of colorful examples, the author artfully illustrates the frustrations, uncertainty, poorly founded confidence and frequent futility of medical practice in the prescientific age. Employing a consistently light and humorous touch, he effortlessly navigates a cornucopia of fascinating, esoteric and obscure patient histories. The carefully selected vignettes demonstrate the befuddled mindset of the well-intentioned physicians who were forced to contend with the vagaries of damaged and failing human flesh without the benefit of anesthesia, and armed with little more than the fanciful theories of Galen ... This continuity of human folly across the centuries is simultaneously surprising and reassuring. The author emerges as equal measures social historian and voyeur. Little attempt is made to connect the various incidents into a substantial overview, in the manner of the greats of the genre such as the British medical historian Roy Porter. Indeed, the material, although both fascinating and entertaining, is left displayed naked on the dissection table in a somewhat disjointed and frivolous manner that is ultimately disappointing. It nevertheless provides a curious window into a vitalistic era of medical practice that, fortunately for us all, has been eclipsed by the significant advances of contemporary molecular medicine.
RaveThe Financial TimesHis book is in this sense an epitaph to an incarnation of the NHS that existed in gentler, better-funded and less-regulated times. As one might expect, however, from a high-spirited individual such as Marsh, his 'retirement' is no less vigorous and varied than his former life. From his regular travels to Nepal to assist a former pupil at his neurosurgical unit in Kathmandu and jaunts to Ukraine to operate with a friend in Kiev, to his Zen-like renovation of a derelict canal-side cottage in Oxford, Marsh’s eloquent book is — among many other things — a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] thoughtful, engaging book ... Ms. Rochman argues that the notion of an open future is in some ways illusory, since we are inevitably forced to dance to the tunes programmed into our genes ... Ms. Rochman discusses the implications of this new technology and its potential to be abused by those espousing eugenic ideologies. More broadly, she correctly notes that right now both patients and physicians are poorly equipped to fully comprehend 'the stories that genes may whisper or shout within our bodies'.'