A brief diversion from normal service on this blog for a gratuitous advertisement: today is publication day for my book The Matter of the Heart, the culmination of two years’ work. As well as spending innumerable hours in libraries reading medical papers, I had the great privilege of talking to cardiac specialists and even watching them as they performed open-heart procedures, bypass operations and transcatheter device implantations. Much of it did not feel remotely like work.
The book charts the evolution of cardiac surgery from its origins to the present day, presenting the story in terms comprehensible to those with little or no prior medical knowledge. Each chapter examines a different aspect of heart surgery by focusing on a single landmark operation – including the development of the heart-lung machine, the emergence of heart bypass procedures and the most celebrated operation of all time, Christiaan Barnard’s pioneering 1967 heart transplant. But my intention was always to set these technical developments in context by looking at the characters of the surgeons and their patients, the pace of technological and social change, and the ethical dilemmas thrown up by increasing medical sophistication. An excerpt from one early review:
The research that has gone into this book is simply staggering, and Morris has achieved much more than a history of heart operations. The Matter of the Heart is about the mad scientists of the post-war period, the unacknowledged backroom boys, the heroic guinea pigs. It is a study of human beings driven by Olympian ambition and bottomless curiosity. It is, in the end, a book about wonder. And a wonderful book. (Frances Wilson, The Telegraph)
The commercial break is now at an end. Normal blogging activity will be resumed tomorrow.