The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope

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Hamilton has led a remarkable life as a neurosurgeon. There are moments in this spiritual memoir when readers will wish he were their personal guide for the scariest of surgeries. In many ways, this is a story about real doctors as Hamilton understands them—people with exemplary bedside manners who not only make life-and-death decisions for the most vulnerable of the sick, but who have the vision (sometimes literally) to sit and listen as long as it takes, to take patients' hands, dealing with their questions and fears with the utmost gentleness and an eye toward the transcendent and supernatural. Readers will be moved by stories of former patients like Thomas, a child burn victim with such a gift of spirit that he could manage joy despite his tragic condition, and Donald, a brave man determined to live life to the fullest despite a vicious brain tumor. Hamilton's voice soars when he reflects directly on his experience as a brain surgeon, the bulk of which occurs (unfortunately) in the book's second half. In light of these high points, Hamilton's occasionally stumbling and awkward prose when straying from his patients' sides can seem jarring. (Mar. 13)
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