His gripping new book, Heart: A History, had me nearly as enthralled with this pulsating body part as he seems to be. The tone — a physician excited about his specialty — takes a sharp turn from his first two memoirs ... Jauhar hooks the reader of Heart in the first few pages by describing his own health scare — an exam showed obstruction in the main artery feeding his heart ... Most chapters launch with a riveting scene: a patient in the thick of getting a heart transplant, say, or having open-heart surgery. You feel as if you’re watching an episode of a medical television drama ... strange and captivating ... Fun facts are sprinkled throughout ... Heart is chock-full of absorbing tales that infuse fresh air into a topic that is often relegated to textbooks or metaphors about pumps, plumbing or love.
Jauhar’s point is deceptively simple: the heart may function biologically as a pump, but it is never free of representational overlays; its very physiology is a kind of written record of our emotional life. From heart rate and blood pressure to arrhythmias and myocardial tissue damage, Jauhar writes, the biological heart is extremely sensitive to the metaphorical one ... Jauhar invites the reader into the resonant chambers of his heart, narrating the history of an organ while also offering a stirring personal tour of his sorrows.
His latest book is something of a 'Paradiso,' pointing to the field’s brightest and noblest stars while recognizing just how much darkness is still left in the firmament ... Poignant and chattily erudite, Heart shuttles between scholarship and memoir to relate this continuing epic, the uneasy companionship between humans and our most metaphorized organ ... Where Heart shines is in charting another crucial shift that sounds like a throwback but might well be cardiology’s next wave: attending to the mind-body problem.