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Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099520699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099520696
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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)

Review

Perceptive and beautifully written. An original voice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another of my impulse buys, well sort of, read a review in the paper and thought 'must read'. Like Atul Gawande's books, if you have the slightest interest in surgery then read this. It is different to his books though as the reader gets inside the mind more of this surgeon. Admittedly the book is 'faction' rather than true non-fiction but perhaps it was a double bluff and everything is really true with the names changed to protect the innocent!

Gabriel Weston certainly displays both ends of the compassion scale, seemingly none (and chastises herself for it) and then eventually immense which leads her to 'have a good word with herself' - which she does................

The style of writing is excellent and very readable. I've been in theatre hundreds of times (with work, no I am not medically trained at all) and her writing took me straight back in there. I particularly liked the politics that she described, again I have witnessed that a lot in my 22 years in the medical devices field.

I also liked her professional frailty - fancying patients - showing a human side that some consultants are unable to display, but perhaps the job creates that.

Extremely good book my only criticisms are that it was not about orthopaedics and the proof reading got a bit lazy in the last quarter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't usually read this type of book i.e. anything medical makes me feel a bit queasy. However, after reading the newspaper reviews I was intrigued and had high hopes. When I receiving it I was immediately disappointed by the fact that it was very thin, the pages were smallish it was obviously a very short book. Consequently I had finished it in a few hours reading. It was quite frustrating because there were many potentially interesting episodes that would have been so much better, interesting and informative if she had written them more fully. I wish someone could have advised her when writing it to put more flesh on the bones as I think it was potentially a much much better book which the writer did have the skill to produce. Another slightly annoying feature is that the proof reading is flawed. Another small gripe is that a glossary of medical terms would not have been much trouble to add but I ended up having to consult Wikipaedia a number of times. So basically an opportunity lost I think, but if she wants to write another I hope her potential will be revealed as there were many glimpses of good stuff here.
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Format: Hardcover
Many 'medical memoirs' are just a collection of gory stories from the coal face designed to titillate a non medical readership. I am a practicing doctor and have given up on many of these in the past. This book however demonstrates an insightfulness not seen before in other texts. The medical 'stories' described in this book are a mere window dressing to greater questions about the emotional challenges of clinical practice. The author demonstrates great self awareness and observational skills in her narrative. As the husband of a female surgeon it was also nice to discover that she is not alone in the internal commentary of her own experiences. Well done.
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Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading Direct Red and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am in no way connected to the medical profession and found the insight fascinating. It follows Gabriel's progress through training and acting as a surgeon.
A patient will never know what their doctor is really thinking or feeling at any point during treatment and this book provides an insight. The book is very well written and some of the situations are extremely comical, whilst others are very thought provoking and heart wrenching. Overall a really enjoyable and interesting read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As other reviewers haved written, this is an account of the training and the nitty-gritty of a surgeon's life. No gory details are spared and there are bizarre moments - such as trying to prevent a patient's removed and squirming intestines from falling off a table... And although Ms Weston gives a full description of the lengthy and careful training that is required before the surgeon starts to cut into living flesh, she also reports on fully fledged surgeons who through ignorance, laziness and incompetence fail to do what is best for the patient. Perhaps the question that Ms Weston illumines best is the delicate balance required between professional detachment and human compassion. She is a wonderful example of that balance. To any potential reader I would say "Do not be put off by hearing that the book is full of gory details". Read it and be thankful that there are men and women who give up years of their lives to the arduous learning of some of the most complicated and complex skills practised by human beings. I rate this short book highly and am sure that before long I shall want to read it again.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this up on a whim, out of a bag of incoming books at our bookshop, because I've rather enjoyed other 'medical memoirs' I've read in the past. I find them fascinating, perhaps because the medical profession is such a world apart - men and women caring for every kind of person in every kind of difficult situation, often at absolutely critical moments in their lives. Gabriel Weston's surgical memoir is definitely the best of the bunch so far, and I can see why it was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2009.

Weston is a surgeon in a big-city English hospital. Her book is divided into short, deftly-titled chapters, providing themes for her anecdotes and creating an interesting structure. 'Speed', for example, illustrates the importance of quick thinking and rapid action in saving lives; 'Hierarchy' delves into the power relations of a surgical ward, and 'Children' covers her time in the paediatric emergency room and children's department. Theming each section allows Weston to move around in time and to make important points about the surgical profession without muddling her narrative, and it really worked for me.

This is a beautifully written book that rings with the precise and matter-of-fact detail that a surgeon's eye is trained to notice. Weston's disclaimer points out that no one character or situation here is 'true' - but I don't think it really matters, because at the book's heart is a thoroughly authentic and experienced voice. There were some heartbreaking moments and some charming ones, some lyrical descriptions and some blisteringly earthy ones. Far from being frightened by the graphic surgical scenes, I found myself reassured by how much the human body can withstand, and how much a surgical team can do to mend it when it is broken. Highly recommended - though if you're squeamish you should probably give this one a miss!
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