Top positive review
33 of 35 people found this helpful
Funny, Moving, and Just a Little Bit Scary
on 25 November 2002
Have you ever wondered what's going on behind the impassive, professional countenance of a hospital doctor? Have you ever considered those early years in their careers that they spend on wards? How it is that on the day they graduate from medical school they suddenly have all the answers? Well, they don't.
"House of God" is Samuel Shem's account of his year as an intern, the first year after medical school (in the UK they're called House Officers).
He captures the intensity of the experience perfectly, and the humour that helped him survive makes this book one of the funniest I have ever read.
Behind the laughter is a serious account of how he came close to the edge mentally during that first year. The limits of medicine are also revealed, disturbingly for the lay-patient with a naive belief that modern doctors can cure anyone who reaches hospital alive, and there are some sobering conclusions about how we treat the elderly for those who wish to draw them.
But I wouldn't want to mislead you - this is above all a hilarious account of a year in the life of a junior doctor in those carefree 70s when alcohol and sex were still recreations and not merely pathologies. The hard edge beneath makes that humour all the more effective, and the occasional tragic event makes the laughter as necessary for the reader's emotional well being as it was for the author.
Buy it, read it, and wonder why you had never come across this masterpiece before.