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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, although scary, reading for all medical students
Wow, I could not put this down. As a medical student and a part time healthcare assistant I am aware of two views of the medical profession and found this book to be very accurate in terms of interstaff relationships and attitude. The thoughts and inexperience of the newly qualified doctor are vividly portrayed, although this may scare some medical students (and members...
Published on 1 July 2002

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No more 'authentic' than any of the soaps
The scariest thing about this book is the final sentence on the back-cover blurb: "...(a) disturbingly authentic dispatch from the frontline of hospital life". Jed Mercurio has made a name for himself by tapping into the recognition that hospital soaps used to portray a one-sided, glamorous view of hospital life, and deliberately portraying the other side: medical...
Published on 24 Mar 2003 by Dr. James Austin


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, although scary, reading for all medical students, 1 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
Wow, I could not put this down. As a medical student and a part time healthcare assistant I am aware of two views of the medical profession and found this book to be very accurate in terms of interstaff relationships and attitude. The thoughts and inexperience of the newly qualified doctor are vividly portrayed, although this may scare some medical students (and members of the general public) having experienced working in a hospital myself I feel these should serve only to prepare for what is to come, not to put students off. The book is also very accessable to the general public as all specialised terms are explained and the story is great, enough to maintain interest without full knowledge of every procedure involved.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No more 'authentic' than any of the soaps, 24 Mar 2003
By 
Dr. James Austin (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
The scariest thing about this book is the final sentence on the back-cover blurb: "...(a) disturbingly authentic dispatch from the frontline of hospital life". Jed Mercurio has made a name for himself by tapping into the recognition that hospital soaps used to portray a one-sided, glamorous view of hospital life, and deliberately portraying the other side: medical blunders, cover-ups, callous doctors etc. This does not make his book 'authentic'. Rather, it is equally one-sided - he presents a view that is jaundiced, pessimistic and ulimately hopeless. Just as the soaps cram far more heroism into hospital life than really occurs, so he crams far more lethal negligence and cynicism than really occurs. For most of us in the NHS, the truth lies somewhere between: we have seen (and perhaps made) both disastrous blunders and strokes of life-saving genius, amidst long stretches of routine; we have felt both despair and pride. Dr Mercurio's book may be authentic for him, but I find it hard to imagine he is in a majority.
The medicine itself is not always authentic either. I don't know of any NHS hospital (and I've worked in a few) where the medical SHO prescribes for and extubates patients on ICU. And as for a patient waking up immediately after a twenty-minute cardiac arrest (due to 'massive MI') - well, it could be straight off Holby City. Like a previous reviewer, I found the footnotes excessive. Maybe a non-medical reader would find them valuable, but even he/she would probably have spotted something wrong with Dr Mercurio's definition of the 'mons vaginis'.
On the plus side, Dr Mercurio makes some trenchant points: traditional medical school training is not well-geared to the practicalities of being a junior doctor; and hospitals have not been good at detecting (let alone correcting) weaknesses in the system that allow errors to be made. In these and other matters he has caught something of the Zeitgeist of the current NHS, which gives his book a topical bite. He does also have an ear for a truly poetic turn of phrase (the 'lithium wind' will stick in my memory for some time), and his prose is generally engaging.
The book inevitably invites comparison with 'The House of God', and unfortunately fares badly: it is as if Dr Mercurio has deliberately set out to write an NHS equivalent, and has succeeded so well that it might as well be a clone. It's all there: the worldly-wise role model, the suicidal colleague, the consultant obsessed with post-mortems and dress code, the wisecracks, the desperate sex (which becomes quite tedious eventually), even the semi-redemptive ending. 'Bodies' offers nothing new over its American predecessor, but is equally readable.
In short, to any aspiring doctor, medical student or interested layman, I'd say: read it by all means, but don't take it too seriously.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb., 24 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
Anyone who saw "Cardiac Arrest" would have a good idea what to expect. This is incredibly accurate; it encapsulates the entire ethos of hospital life. I can't understand why other reviewers say it isn't true to life - maybe not every hospital all the time - but everything is verifiable, even down to patients being referred to by their condition. It happens! Utterly brilliant. If you don't like it, watch "Casualty" instead. Quick Nurse, the screens!
It's about time that Colin Douglas's books were reissued - along similar lines but lighter.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave New World?, 30 Mar 2006
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
With the current crop of television soap operas ranging from the bathetic Holby City to the hyperbolic E.R., there is nothing in the media that truly reflects the nature of hospital medicine, nothing to tell it like it really is.
Welcome then, Jed Mercurio, a former doctor himself, delivering his own sharp commentary of life as a junior doctor at an NHS Hospital. With tones that clearly resonate of Samuel Shek's House of God, Mercurio offers readers a home brand of punchy writing with no less muck and grime.
Mercurio's nameless narrator journeys through the hospital, its corridors filled with corruption and cynicism, in search of an ideal world where patients improve and doctors romance nurses. Instead he encounters unbridled mendacity, botched medical errors and suffers his own relationship problems with his 'civilian' girlfriend. As readers, we gain insight into the narrator's internal moral, and emotion turmoil and see how this is translated not just physically (his childhood eczema resurfacing) but also into his work environment.
This book attempts to counter the deification of the medical profession and highlights the human nature of doctors, and how sometimes, even they make mistakes too. In an era of 'Fitness to Practise' it is also refreshing to see the author highlight the oft under mentioned issue of whistle-blowing.
On the upside, this book is a thoroughly entertaining yet chillingly accurate portrayal of less than perfect hospital life. With its easily accessible style, it serves as a potential warning to all medical students as to what the 'real world' of medicine is truly like, guts and all.
The only possible downside? It's been commissioned for a BBC Television Series
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sanctimonious twaddle, 2 Feb 2009
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
Thoroughly mean-spirited and unrealistic in every way. Mercurio clearly hated his time as a junior doctor, and it's probably for the best he bailed out of his profession when he did. Though why he has to subject readers to share this misery is beyond me.

Being a quack myself, it's insulting to read such cynicism about the NHS. Too much medical jargon, not one scrap of humour, no redeeming characters. Only because i parted with cash for this effort did i bother to finish it. And then I chucked it.

Try Max Pemberton's effort instead - more humour, fun, and a damn sight more realistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll never look at a doctor the same way again!, 6 Jun 2003
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
I bought this book as a bit of light holiday reading. Big mistake! Jed Mercurio tells his tale around the experiences of a medical graduate working for the first time in the real world of a bog standard hospital. It doesn't make for comfortable reading but it does provide an honest insight into the way the 'system' chews up and spits out tender young things. There is a great deal of uncomfortable detail provided and I came away with quite a bit of food for thought, even though I already knew some of it through my work. If you read this book then you will listen to politicians pontificating about the health service with a much more cynical expression on your face!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodies. A most readable read., 6 Dec 2005
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
I am a nursing sister of thirty years experience. On reading Bodies I felt as if Jed Mercurion had borrowed extracts from my nursing diary!
It was sureal. I too was a 'whistleblower' and was consequently 'suspended'on full pay 'pending investigation'. The reason for my suspension still remains unclear. Bodies is a fantastic read. I urge everyone to read this, whether they are an unsuspecting member of the public, some poor soul awaiting the start of their student training in nursing/medicine, or a fully qualified member of the Health Care Profession.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely brilliant and gripping novel, 16 Aug 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
Bodies is written by an ex-doctor and boy does it show.... Totally gripping from page one - not only is it a really scary insight into a hospital doctor's life, but it's one of those can't put down sort of stories too. I love the dark humour but it's not just 'clever/clever' stuff. It's the sort of book that will win some sort of prestigious book prize but at the same time is totally readable - thanks to the central relationship the young doctor is having with a nurse and the almost 'thriller' like aspect of his whistle-blowing story.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodies, 23 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
I work in a hospital and thought this could be a good read, I wasn't wrong, it made me laugh and cry. As a picture of the modern NHS it is a damming indictment, although it is fiction it presents an accurate picture of what it is like to be both a patient and a member of staff in a hospital. The book also remained true to its title, the descriptions of all the different bodies that were encountered were accurate and insightful. Bodies retains much of the 'darkness' that characterised 'Cardiac Arrest' with the doctors appearing as the bad guys although not intentionally. By the end of the book you couldn't help but feel sorry for both the patients and junior doctors as they were at the mercy of what was portrayed as an uncaring system. A cracking good read that moves at a pace that should keep even the slowest reader interested.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for aspiring medics, 30 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodies (Paperback)
Mercurio tells it like it is. The awful thing is that it's exactly like it was twenty years ago as a Houseman. Apart that is, from the drugs, the casual sex and the covered-up mistakes? - afraid not.
He describes accurately how Medicine changes you into another person. Some of us survived better than Mercurio's narrator, but then perhaps it would have been better if we hadn't.
The characters, the situations and the locations all ring horribly true, though of course he exaggerates, compresses and edits out the mundane and successful to make his point.
When aspiring medics ask me for career advice, I'll insist they read this book. Non-medics will probably not finish it or wish they hadn't started.
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Bodies by Jed Mercurio (Paperback - 6 Mar 2003)
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