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Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0446581097
ISBN-10: 0446581097
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Black, chair of the department of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, reflects on his extraordinary life and career. As an African-American growing up in Alabama and Ohio, Black benefited from the emphasis his scholarly parents put on learning: I was brought up to believe there was nothing that I could not do, and he published his first scientific paper at age 17 and went on to pioneer blood-brain barrier research to enable chemotherapy drugs to reach brain tumors directly. Introducing the reader to his colleagues and patients, Black tours the interior of the brain with detailed accounts of delicate surgical procedures: Under the microscope I could see the delicate latticework of blood vessels covering the brainstem, all of which absolutely had to be preserved. Documenting the risks and rewards of the procedures he performs, he also examines racial hurdles he had to leap to become a neurosurgeon. Black is equally skilled as an author, alternating incisive writing about incisions with his personal memoir, insightful and inspirational. (Mar. 25)
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From Booklist

Black, chair of the neurosurgery department of Los Angeles’ prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, didn’t get where he is by having influential connections or being born to wealth and privilege. Well . . . not privilege in the traditional sense. But he does indeed feel privileged to have had parents who ignored the social barriers facing African Americans in the deep South in the 1960s and motivated both their sons to excel beyond external expectations. That’s why, when he faced a bigoted department head at the University of Michigan Medical School, who would deny him entrance to the neurosurgery department, Black was prepared to overcome those biases by means of superior knowledge and performance. He went on to achieve a stellar career in research and neurosurgery, first at UCLA and then at Cedars-Sinai. His story, coupled with harrowing accounts of a handful of his patients, is cleanly written, inspirational, and a superb fit for the times in which we live. --Donna Chavez

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style; 1 edition (March 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446581097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581097
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Darryl R. Morris on April 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Keith Black is the chairman of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who specializes in the surgical and medical treatment of brain tumors. He has gained widespread recognition for his clinical skill in treating brain cancers, and has been featured in Time Magazine, CBS News and PBS' The History Makers.

Brain Surgeon is an enjoyable and inspiring story about his career, obstacles he overcame along the way, battles and controversies he has encountered in providing the best care for his patients, and the advances of clinical brain tumor research that are allowing patients to live longer and, in some cases, making disease remission possible.

Although the story centers on Dr. Black's impressive accomplishments, equal billing is given to several patients, who he claims are the true heroes of this book. They are fully engaged in the treatment plan, and the trust and faith that they have in Dr. Black is matched by his respect and desire to help them as best he can.

The book is written for a lay audience, and would be appropriate for high school and college students interested in medicine and neurosurgery, or anyone else interested in stories of faith and inspiration.
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Format: Hardcover
A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles
Keith Black, MD with Arnold Mann
Wellness Central
Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-446-58109-7
Reviewer: Annie Slessman

Not being in the medical field, I expected BRAIN SURGEON, A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles by Keith Black, MD with Arnold Mann to be a hard, dry read. I could not have been more wrong! Dr. Black and Arnold Mann have managed to take a subject matter - brain surgery - from the mysterious to something easily understood by everyone.

Dr. Black uses a series of stories about his patients and their courage and surprising stamina to relate his experiences and inform the reader about the mysteries of the brain. Each story explains the many types of brain cancer and the degree of difficulty that each occurrence requires in its treatment.

For instance, my own daughter was recently diagnosed with a tumor in her liver. We were told the tumor was not cancerous. She had only taken a MRI - how can they tell the tumor is not cancerous by an image test? Well, I got my answer when Dr. Black explained that a tumor which is cancerous absorbs more of the dye making it more prominent in the MRI. Thank you, Dr. Black, I found your book and its ability to explain things in simple terms very comforting.

Dr. Black, early in his career leans toward cardiology. When he took his first neuro-anatomy class, he was hooked. As he states, "the bottom line is that the heart is just a muscle, a pump, to be sure, it's a very elegant muscle and a great pump, but it's still a pump. The brain, on the other hand, is the ultimate reduction of self.
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Format: Hardcover
I happen to have met Dr. Black in person...he was my neurosurgeon. Dr. Black at Cedars-Sinai was my second opinion, and I was afraid that I would go through the same inpersonal experience, that I had with the first neurosurgeon . When Dr. Black walked in the room...he leaned against the wall...and actually looked into my eyes...and said "Tell me what is going on with you..." (and he listened) I had his full attention as he patiently answered all of the questions I had. He even brought a 3-D model of a brain to explain everything to me. He was a very gracious and unassuming man. He gave me hope during a time that I felt no hope.

So, what I have to say about this book is...that it was nice to get an inside look at how Dr. Black grew up, what's important to him and most of all ... how his mind works. I never knew any of this, because when I spent time with him, it was "all about me". I take his book for what it is...a gift to those of us that he gave so much to. A chance to get into his brain. Thank you Keith Black...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a patient of his probably makes me an unfair favorable bias towards this great doctor. I read the book in one sitting. I could'nt put it down! It reads like a great movie. Not hard for non medical types like myself. A very interesting life story and everyday life of a top neurosurgeon is revealed here. I highly reccommend it! You wont be dissapionted
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book as a person who's needing to select a brain surgeon for a rare type of meningioma. Not only was Dr Black's personal story about how he came to be a neuro-surgeon fascinating, but it was the best source of education I've seen for a patient.

I've gained enough of an understanding about how brain surgery is done, to now ask specific questions of potential surgeons that are critical to my recovery.

Dr Black's personal philosophy about how magnificent the brain is directly correlates with his surgical techniques to do everything possible to not touch any healthy brain tissue. He states his job is "to be a thief in the night, by getting in there to steal the tumor before the brain knows he's even been there".

His compassion and humility are profoundly represented in the stories he shares about his patients. He repeatedly states that "his patients are the real heros not the neurosurgeons". It restores my hope to learn of a doctor who continually asks himself, "is this in the best interest of the patient".

I was also interested in how he explained that the reward system for traditional medical research doesn't always lend itself to a direct usefulness for clinical practice. The research practice he's set-up is looking for direct "bench to bedside" impact, and that is how we'll see advancement to cure brain cancer.

I was shocked to realize that out of the 5000 licensed neuro-surgeons in the US, 4900 of them are dedicated to spinal surgery and of the remaining 100, 50 of those are vascular surgeons. That leaves about 50 docs who are completely focused on brain tumors. Statistics don't lie about the best surgical outcomes for ANY type of surgery is related to how often a surgeon does a specific surgery.
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