Editor | Non-Fiction
The spark of life, fount of emotion, house of the soul—the heart lies at the center of every facet of our existence. It’s so bound up in our deepest feelings that it can physically change shape when we experience emotional trauma
For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. As cardiologist and bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar shows in Heart: A History, it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live.
Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, and combining his family’s own moving history of heart disease with gripping scenes from the operating theater, Jauhar tells the colourful and little-known story of the doctors who gambled with their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African-American doctor who performed the world’s first open-heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient’s circulatory system to a healthy donor’s, paving the way for the heart–lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker—by accident. Jauhar also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent.
Affecting, engaging, and beautifully written, Heart: A History takes the full measure of the only organ that can move itself.
Sandeep Jauhar is director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is the New York Times bestselling author of two medical memoirs and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. His first book, Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation, was optioned by NBC for a dramatic television series. He lives on Long Island with his wife and their two children.