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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get ready for a unique adventure with Dr. Lark!, December 7, 2010
By 
Jean Sasson (Atlanta, Georgia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Lark (Paperback)
Doctor Lark is the "can't put down memoir" of a British doctor who travels the world, healing the sick while experiencing exciting adventures. Bill Larkworthy is not only a first-rate physician, but is a wonderful storyteller and wise man. In his beautifully written memoir he talks about subjects that few people know much about: the world of international medical care and the world of adventure traveling. Readers discover that Dr. Larkworthy lived through more adventures that most do in their wildest daydreams, revealing distance places and exotic cultures ranging from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia.

In all fairness to readers of this review, I must reveal that while I worked as Administrative Coordinator of Medical Affairs at the royal hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was the personal Medical Affairs assistant to Dr. Feteih, the Saudi head of the hospital, and the man who would turn out to be Dr. Larkworthy's devoted enemy. Sadly, Dr. Fetieh held an unfair vendetta against Dr. Larkworthy's lovely wife, Maria, who also worked at the hospital. In fact, no one else could ever find any fault or blame of Maria, who impressed everyone with her high intelligence and ability to smoothly run the Pediatrics Department. She was one of the most admired secretaries at the Faisal and her doctors depended upon her, and adored her. Add to this, no one on earth is more fun loving than Maria -- she is a person of PURE JOY, something unique in our world. Thankfully, Bill and Maria survived Dr. Feteih's harrowing ordeal and came back to greater things, living lives of great value. I must also add that Bill and Maria are greatly loved friends and our friendship has nothing to do with my admiration for Bill's writing skills. He is a GREAT writer and I am only sorry that he didn't take up a writing career years ago, for he has a great flair for storytelling. Bill Larkworthy was one of the best physicians at the hospital (I should know as I was told this fact by many of his patients, some of them in the royal family) and now we discover that he is a fabulous writer!

Doctor Lark is an unusually lively, fun memoir and I recommend it HIGHLY.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing the benefits... and so much else..., January 17, 2011
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In the Introduction to his memoir, Dr. Larkworthy relates the anecdote that provides the basis for his sub-title. There is no question that the author exhibits some "tribal" tendency; certainly in the best sense, because the memoir is laced with that famous understated, dry, British sense of humo(u)r; the cited anecdote being a prime example. His use of the term "un mariage d'amour" is another.

There are several reasons why I found this book enjoyable, and informative. There is the knowledge conveyed about medicine, always written in a way that no medical pre-requisites are required. Understandably, the common sniffles and assorted hypochondriac patients do not push the physician's "hot button." It is the weird, unusual cases, which physicians like to call "rich, clinical material" that are the ones worth remembering, and relating, and so Larkworthy does. In real estate, it is "location, location, location; as the author relates, in medicine, it is the "diagnosis, diagnosis, diagnosis." The physician has to first determine precisely what the problem is before a proper course of treatment can be prescribed. And that intellectual challenge, playing "detective" as the author says, is what makes the profession rewarding and interesting, which, in part, accounts for the popularity of the American TV show, "C.S.I." The memoir is also valuable since it relates the history of medicine, in the author's own lifetime, as well as before. Like as in the stock market, timing is all-important, and Dr. Larkworthy's professional career coincided with the invention of fiber optics, and its utilization in the medical field, which permitted the physician to actually SEE what the problem is, without cutting open the patient. The author became a leading practitioner in the endoscopic field.

The memoir is also the story of a physician taking "the path less travelled." There is no tedious and pedestrian climbing from one well-defined niche to another in the British medical establishment. He signed on for what would become a 20-year career in the Royal Air Force, seeing in Malaysia, inter alia, the final days of the British commitment to what they called "east of Suez," before another would-be empire would attempt a similar task. Seeing the "retrenchment" handwriting on the wall, he bailed from the RAF, and his parachuted landed him ever so gently in what he calls "the Magic Kingdom," Saudi Arabia. He worked at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh during the "early days" of the expatriate workforce in the Kingdom, the late `70's, early `80's. His observations of the times are authentic, unlike some other expat tales. This is all the more remarkable since he drew there one of the bad cards that can be dealt in life, running afoul of a megalomaniac who thought his powers were unlimited. There was nothing gentle about the author's exit from the Kingdom. His reaction to the final denouement of the megalomaniac seems generous; I don't know that I could have been as charitable. After his departure from the "magic," he went on to another 20-year portion of his career, running a highly successful and prominent clinic in the United Arab Emirates. In the process, Larkworthy relates the "future-shock" transformation of that country.

But why should any American, all too many of whom, famous for their deficient of geographic knowledge, are not able to find Butterworth or Aden or Qunfuddah on the map, read this autobiography? The flapping of a butterfly's wings in China, is the answer. That famous metaphor of the "chaos theory"; how seemingly distant and unrelated events can have a direct impact on one's life. For Larkworthy's life bisected that of one Bernie Kerik, who, to the utter astonishment, chagrin, and even fear, of anyone who knew him in the `80's, was nominated to be Director of Homeland Security by then President George Bush. When the phone call came from the Washington Post, Larkworthy could have said, "this is not my business what is going on in the former colonies," but no doubt because he inherited that gene from his father, who was a conscious objector during a very popular war, he decided to speak out, and tell the reporter all he knew about Kerik's background. Though his testimony was probably not decisive, since Kerik went on to replicate in New York City much of what he had done in Riyadh, it was still an important act. As of this writing, Kerik remains in jail, nailed, just like Al Capone, for income tax evasion, among other crimes.

There is much else in the book, and I now know that it was basic economic interest why the British are referred to as "limeys" and not "lemonys." Overall, reading this book is like being invited to his house for an eight hour lunch, and floating in the pool, just so a portion of the "rich clinical material" of his life can be related. Definitely 5-stars plus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Lark, December 12, 2010
This review is from: Doctor Lark (Paperback)
Doctor Lark brings an expat's world to life.

The challenges, the adrenalin rushes, the failures, the unbelievable successes and the continuing stimulation of a never ceasing and often inexplicable journey.

Bill is a great author with a superb story to tell. His recollection of events is both sensitive and humorous, you live inside his shoes. Doctors with so much talent are not normally so modest. The UK, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, France and many other destinations are all better places because of his professional dedication.

You will not be able to put the book down and you will be a better person for reading it.

A privilege to have known such an excellent character.

Martin Mankowski
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb memoirs in the best tradition of travel adventure, December 26, 2010
This review is from: Doctor Lark (Paperback)
"Doctor Lark" is a gem of a book. It is much more than autobiography. Armed with superb medical skills and endoscopy tools the author, a British gastroenterologist and officer of the British Royal Air Force, travels bringing the best of Western medicine to various parts of the world ranging from the United Kingdom to the Far East to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

Doctor Lark brings much more than cutting edge medical technology to his worldwide practice. He brings a warm upbeat straightforward personality with a mix of realism, sense of humor, toughness and respect for his fellow man that allow him to make incisive observations about societies much different than the England he grew up in. In the best tradition of Marco Polo and Ibn Battouta he mingles equally at ease with the powerful and the meek and navigates with grace and determination through kafkaseque situations, including his jailing in Saudi Arabia on trivial charges by the vindictive CEO of the Hospital he was working in.

The book is superbly written. It is easy to read, the medical terminology it uses is thoroughly explained and is packed with amusing anecdotes and illuminating facts. It evokes nostalgia for adventure travel, and for the personal way medicine was practiced in the mid to late twentieth century.

"Doctor Lark" is highly recommended to anyone with interest in travel, medicine and, above all, the quest to lead a useful and fulfilling life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Front row observation of the human condition, February 20, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Lark (Paperback)
Doctors have a front row seat at the greatest show on earth, how homo sapiens lives!
Bill Larkworthy's autobiography details this part of medicine. How funny, sad, vainglorious and downright idiotic we are.
He tells it in velvet prose that draws you in. At least it did me. I finished the book in two sessions. It couldn't put me down.
His journey takes him to Saudi Arabia at a time when the country was not yet as westernized as it is today.
His account of those times is concise, accurate and poignant.
He describes particularly vividly his imprisonment as a consequence of a frame up by a mad Saudi the low point of his life, but wait!
It is here that he meets the indomitable Maria, soulmate and wife. This is a love affair for the ages.
I would make this book compulsory reading for medical students as it covers those aspects of practice not found in textbooks.
This is a marvellous read. I can't wait for the next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ DOCTOR LARK AND ENJOY AN INTERESTING JOURNEY WITH AN OUTSTANDING MEDICINE MAN, January 15, 2011
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A WELL TOLD STORY BY A SUPERIOR PHYSICIAN. DR. LARKWORTHY SHARES WITH HIS READERS VALUABLE MEDICAL INFORMATION, CULTURAL INSIGHTS AND AN EXAMINATION OF THE GLOBAL EVENTS OF HIS TIME. HIS ASTUDE OBSERVATIONS AND PRESENTATION MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN THIS BOOK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey you won't want to miss!, December 6, 2012
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I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful memoir; it has everything you could want in a memoir- a story worth telling, sometimes tragic and disturbing, other times warm and funny, but always fascinating. The author has achieved much in the medical field, but he could also have been a very successful author. Bill Larkworthy is a fine story-teller and a very good writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Educational Traveling Doctor's Memoir, July 15, 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Lark (Paperback)
This is a highly entertaining memoir with laughs throughout. I'm not a doctor, but I learned plenty about the human body, the profession and almost wish I'd gone into medicine for the incredible stories doctors are privy to from their patients. (I assume names were changed to protect identities.)
As a yank with far less travel than the author, I appreciated the insights to foreign lands such as his home in England and experiences before becoming an expat. I also learned more about the Middle East than expected, particularly Saudi Arabia and Dubai, from Dr Lark's experiences. He does a great job explaining histories and ramifications without getting long-winded or forgetting the humor in most human nature.
I laughed throughout. Really enjoyed this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and informative, December 8, 2014
By 
codepink (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
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I was watching Anthony Bourdain's trip to the occupied Gaza trip, and one amazon link led to another, leading to this book. It's a first hand look the developments in medical practice as well as a part of the world I'd never see otherwise. I laughed so hard at some passages that I startled my dogs. One of them left the room because I was so loud.Overall, a satisfying read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Expat's tale enjoyed by an Expat!, November 4, 2013
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A good yarn well told! Would have liked more about Dr Lark's time in Dubai. Dr Lark's Saudi experience spells out what the risks are living in that country as an Expat. Only went there once for a few days but was happy to leave.
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Doctor Lark
Doctor Lark by Bill Larkworthy (Paperback - December 1, 2010)
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