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Direct Red: A Surgeon's View of Her Life-or-Death Profession Hardcover – August 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061725404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061725401
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,651,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hard to imagine a better book, or a more original one...writes at least as well as many good novelists...funny, and honest, and beautifully done" -- Claire Tomalin "Her wisdom, empathy, morality and self-awareness are very revealing... Her writing is as incisive, precise and clean as keyhole surgery" The Times "A beautiful, haunting and upsetting book. Weston's prose is cool and elegant" Sunday Telegraph "Direct Red is Gabriel Weston's memoir of the years she spent pursuing a surgical career... She examines these with an honesty that is both brave and uncomfortable" Guardian "What a terrific book. Gabriel Weston's voice is so seductive; her wisdom so fresh and earned, and unimpaired by sentimentality, and yet you sense her empathy - and scintillating honesty - behind every well-turned sentence. She leaves you feeling that if push came to shove you'd want to be operated on by her" -- Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Surgeons have long been known for their allergy to doubt, an unsurprising trait in professionals who must play God, routinely risking someone else's life to do their job. But in this illuminating memoir, Gabriel Weston reveals the emotions, passions, and doubts normally hidden behind a surgeon's mask.

Interweaving her own story with those of her patients, old and young, Weston evokes both the humor and the heartbreak that come from medicine's daily confrontation with the ultimate unknowability of the human body. With prose that does not flinch from the raw, graphic realities of a surgeon's day, Weston confronts life, death, and the unique difficulties of being a female surgeon in a heavily male-dominated profession.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I usually read in short sessions - this book was perfect for that.
T.M. Reader
She is honest and not filled with bravado, freely admitting mistakes and identifying flaws within the profession, but in the end, I felt the treatment too superficial.
P. Mann
Hard to put down, well written and gives you pause to think; an excellent book.
atmj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Federico (Fred) Moramarco VINE VOICE on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My gold standard for books by surgeons about their profession is Richard Selzer's "Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery" which conveys a sense of the fragility of human life by simply looking at the physicalities of our bodies close up. Gabriel Weston's "Direct Red: A Surgeon's View of her Life or Death Profession," does not reach the poetic heights that Selzer's prose does, but it is a strong, well-written account of a surgeon's experience from her early days as a medical intern through her growing expertise as a practitioner. Because Weston is female, it has the added bonus of giving us some insight as to what it's like to be a woman in a mostly male profession. (clue: it ain't easy). And because she's British, it's a particularly timely look at how some aspects of the British Health Care system work, although that is largely a by-product and not a direct topic of her observations. What I like best about it, however, is her willingness to share her emotional life with us, reminding us that surgeons are not automated machines that slice and cut, but rather human beings like ourselves with sometimes very strong personal feelings about the situations they find themselves in. It's very much worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Doug Milligan VINE VOICE on August 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was expecting a memoir of a surgeon looking back at their 30 plus year career, but this book is slightly different. It takes the reader through viewpoints the author has as she progresses through medical school, internship, and residency. It poses the questions I'm sure every surgeon has to answer from the human aspect of dealing with life and death decisions. I had a relative who was a surgeon, I'm not sure he ever stopped to answer those questions.

There are a couple of things I would have liked to have seen in this book. First, why the author chose the course they did in becoming a surgeon. That would help to understand her viewpoints at certain points in the book. The second is what I said before, more experience to be drawn from.

As a patient on the other side of the knife, it is nice to know that surgeons have embraced the human side of their trade. We aren't just a piece of meat to them, and sometimes they do allow us to have a say in our treatment. Of course there are times they have to hurt us, or push us to our limits, in order to save a life. One story told in this book will settle with me for awhile, where she describes the seemingly barbaric treatment of a patient to attempt to save their life, without the chance for that patient to say their goodbyes to relatives.

For a first stab as an author, Gabriel Weston has done a good job portraying what it's like to be sometimes a "superhero" in the medical field. Based on what I gathered from the book, I can't see many more books like this coming from her.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam F. Jewell on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This isn't the typical type of book I read but with some friends and relatives in med school and the medical profession, it seemed like it would be interesting to read about Gabriel Weston's journey to becoming a surgeon.

When you read this book, it takes a strong stomach. The accounts of the various situations and surgeries are so vivid you feel like you are right there watching things unfold, except you can't close your eyes to shut out the images. Nothing in here is sugar coated. The physical pain, the emotions, the sights and smells are all presented and described in graphic (and sometimes gory) detail to make the reader feel as if they are in the OR watching the events unfolding.

Throughout the book, Weston addresses the issues faced by doctors & residents from the lack of sleep to the politics of making the right decision for the patient vs. the right decision for political purposes and the conflicting emotions that may arise when a bond begins to build with a patient.

Overall, I thought the book was excellent and painted an extremely vivid and sometimes gruesome picture of what it is like to be a surgeon and that path it takes to get there. Most of all, it simply provided a perspective on a journey in life different from my own. It also makes you appreciate a little bit more how lucky many of us are as we remain healthy and do not have to endure the procedures, operations, and recovery times of those unfortunate souls who provided the material for the episodes recounted in the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gen of North Coast Gardening TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a big fan of the medical memoir genre, and have really enjoyed books by Tilda Shalof and Michael Collins in particular. This book is along the same lines - a lot of stories about what it's really like to be in the medical profession, with lots of insight into the different kinds of people that become doctors, nurses, or surgeons, and the different things people go through when they have an illness or injury.

Gabriel Weston's voice is very casual and she uses a lot of cool British slang that brings her words to life in this book. I felt like I was sitting down with a friend who told me all kinds of interesting stories and let me into her world. Every time I dipped into this book I got lost in it and didn't want to put it down.

It is a little too short and doesn't have any overarching narrative or any real ending, but that's OK, because I was engaged throughout by the small stories and dramas that make up a medical life. If you enjoy medical memoir then you'll really enjoy this new voice in the genre. If you're new to medical memoir, I'd recommend starting with Hot Lights, Cold Steel by Collins first. It has enough of a connecting thread through the story that you'll get a good (and funny!) intro to the genre, and if you like it you can come back to this book to find some new stories about medical life.
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