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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2010
This is a book I loved ."To the Wedding", also by John Berger, is another. The sense of humanity found in these two books, is exceptional and very rare in modern literature. I remember one of them, an excellent one: "Diary of a country priest" by Georges Bernanos, has a common attitude with "A fortunate man".

John Berger writes about a living, real person. In his own career of a rather isolated rural doctor John Sassall reveals his own hopes, pains, sufferings, struggles as a human being ,similar to his patients. He interacts with them in a deep psychological and human contact not far away from being compassion and love in a deep sense. Freud used the same word -love- as the feeling developing in the patient-psychoanalyst relationship. Some very few professionals know exactly what it is and are able to use it (M.Balint, is an excellent writer regarding medical profession) and here is where Bernanos priest can also be compared with Berger's GP, where both men act and work in a philosophical level: compassion and love, almost sacred words part of Christianity and St. Paul's message.

(Did we all, adults , forgot "our" doctor of our childhood ? They are now disappeared, but not the beautiful memories, of simple long illnesses, warm bed ridden days, Mother worried, some soft menthol perfumes, and the arrival of Our doctor, his kindness, his tenderness, his warmth.-) Here, we find Doctor Sassall, becoming part of the families, visiting and taking care of young lives in distress, of very seriously ill people, of persons in their last minutes of live and giving them the necessary treatment, responsibility, attention, comprehension.

But ,together with those excellent photos by Jean Mohr, there is still an interwoven development of all these items plus the doctor's personality, as an essay inside a book ,the whole perhaps pretending to be an interesting investigation on life. But "Sassall needs his unsatisfied quest for certainty and his uneasy sense of unlimited responsibility": just as the author. Therefore after a little more than the half of this book,John Berger suddenly changing voice and style, starts developing his own ideas in a long non-transparent endless monologue.

I read this book for the first time, years ago and was impressed by the beauty of the first part. To day I will still talk about a very good book on the "love your neighbor" admiring concept -specially nowadays- and with a certain poetical and beautiful essence.

Just not perfectly finished , but dignified and useful for the soul benefit! One of those rare books that makes you face humanity with a little more love..I very much recommend it !
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2008
This book is often heralded as the best book ever written by many General Practitioners. Whilst I wouldn't go that far in my acclaim it certainly is a wonderful book that gives great insight into the life on an isolated rural GP. The book is charts part of the life of Sassal and follows him around in his daily work and life. Ultimately Sassal committed suicide (some time after the book was published) and some of the book deals with the depression doctors are prone to face. We see the interactions between doctor and patient, and the hard life many lead is beautifully depicted in both prose and picture form. The writing is often poetic and littered with philosophical musings, whilst some parts may be seen as a little patronising there is no overlying maliciousness, only an attempt at understanding. A wonderful read for both doctor and non-doctor alike.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2012
This is an extraordinary meditation on what being a general practitioner actually _means_ rather than what it _is_. Berger turns his well-known powers of observation to a single-handed country doctor in the south of England in the late 1960s, and uses his life to meditate on universal themes such as anguish, salvation, perseverance, adversity, healing and friendship. His eye is unstinting - Dr Sassal is admired, but not eulogised - and the insights it gives are still relevant to general practice today. 10/10. I only wish Berger would do a follow up, to see what has changed in the 45 years since this was written.
I would also like to know what Berger's comments would be on the fact that Sassal killed himself a few years after this book was released.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2015
I really enjoyed the first part of this book when the doc was treating his patients but my interest dwindled later.
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on 25 August 2015
Very interesting read, full of all that way of living that is within my lifetime. Amazing how "progress" slowly but surely covers over these things. I wonder what happened to the country doctor concerned. No doubt things are different now.
Recommended read once you get used to the way the book is constructed.
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on 26 August 2015
This book is a mixture of a very interesting account of a country doctor, and includes a kind of analysis of the doctor and his action. I found the first part enjoyable, but the rest less so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2014
a true classic, tragic real life ending
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on 26 May 2015
This is an excellently produced little book which I gave to a retired doctor as a present.Copiously illustrated with a handsome cover and reasonably priced.
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on 7 July 2015
this was a present I gave after reading a review in the Guardian. I have been told that it is excellent
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on 8 April 2015
A wonderful book,having been a G.P,s wife for 50 yrs I can appreciate this so much.A treasure
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