Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles

Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles


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Welcome to tiger country: the treacherous territory where a single wrong move by a brain surgeon can devastate-or end-a patient's life.

This is the terrain world-renowned neurosurgeon Keith Black, MD, enters every day to produce virtual medical miracles. Now, in BRAIN SURGEON, Dr. Black invites readers to shadow his breathtaking journeys into the brain as he battles some of the deadliest and most feared tumors known to medical science. Along the way, he shares his unique insights about the inner workings of the brain, his unwavering optimism for the future of medicine, and the extraordinary stories of his patients-from ministers and rock stars to wealthy entrepreneurs and uninsured students-whom he celebrates as the real heroes.

BRAIN SURGEON offers a window into one man's remarkable mind, revealing the anatomy of the unflinching confidence of this master surgeon, whose personal journey brought him from life as a young African-American boy growing up in the civil rights era South to the elite world of neurosurgery. Through Dr. Black's white-knuckle descriptions of some of the most astonishing medical procedures performed today, he reveals the beauty and marvel of the human brain and the strength and heroism of his patients who refuse to see themselves as victims. Ultimately, BRAIN SURGEON is an inspiring story of the struggle to overcome odds-whether as a man, a doctor, or a patient.


"An inspirational book about true heroes - readers will marvel at Keith Black's achievements both as a doctor and as a man, and will be in awe of his patients' courage and will to survive." --Denzel Washington

"A rare, behind-the-curtain look at the life of one of the most pre-eminent neurosurgeons in the world." --Sanjay Gupta, MD, Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446198141
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/17/2011
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 351,188
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Internationally renowned neurosurgeon and scientist Keith Black, MD is the director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and director of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. At age 17, he published his first scientific paper, which earned a Westinghouse Science Award. He completed an accelerated college program at the University of Michigan and earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees in six years. Before joining Cedars-Sinai, Black served on the UCLA faculty for 10 years where he was a professor of neurosurgery and was named the Ruth and Raymond Stotter chair in the Department of Surgery and was head of the UCLA Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program.

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Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
scotty18 More than 1 year ago
Brain Surgeon by Keith Black is a very strong and moving book. In this you will learn about both the positive and negatives on the highly skillful career of neurosurgery. Black will share the struggles he faced when trying to become a neurosurgeon due to the fact he was black. As Black was growing up he was always fascinated by science and how the body works. He eventually found himself at the age 17 he won an award in a national science competition for research on the damage done to red blood cells in patients with heart-valve replacements. This achievement earned him in a special program at the University of Michigan where he would earn both his undergraduate and M.D. degree in only 6 years. I personally thought this book was exceptional, the detail and emotions he portrayed when writing this book. I myself plan on becoming a neurosurgeon, this book just helps me understand the delicacy and patience it requires to do this profession. This book is not a hard one to understand, it contains quite a few hard medical terms, but they are all explained right after he mentions what the disease or procedure is. If you like this book I would highly recommend Gifted Hands written by Ben Carson who also faced some of the same struggles as Black. The description of this book is exceptional, especially "tiger country" this draws in all attention the reader has because come into that territory you have serious problems. Overall I would rank this book as the best i have ever red, but then again I want to pursue medicine as a profession. This can be red by almost any high scholar and is one I would strongly recommend
justablondemoment on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I am a survivor of a brain tumor I was particular interested in reading this book and waited in anticipation for it to come to me thru my local library. It wasn't what I had hoped it would be. Dry reading for sure. I was after more client case themed reading and this was more all about the doctor himself. I didn't find the reading to be arrogant as some found it just statements of fact. Just a very clinical overview of this doctors profession, how he got there, his studies ect. Wasn't what I was looking for but did however, make me even more grateful that there are doctors out there that are dedicated to this area of medicine. Without them I would be dead.
MissTrudy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating book. Dr. Black touches lightly here and there on a few instances of racism that he has found in his career, and I wish he had given us more on his thoughts about these experiences. The book focuses mainly on Black's research work and the discoveries and projects taking place at the Center for Brain tumors which he directs. The most enthralling parts are the detailed explanations on how the brain works and how tumors develop, from a neurological and biological angle. Dr. Black does a great job, as well, of humanizing his stories and helps the reader care for his patients and understand the importance of brain cancer research, as the most common type of brain cancer is also the deadliest kind. Moreover, due to environmental factors and life styles (such as, in all likelihood, the pervasive use of cellphones) there are more and more tumors diagnosed each year. That means that each and every one of us has a higher risk of falling victim to brain cancer at any point in time. Sobering thought.The book is a learning experience and leaves one wanting more on the topic. It also leaves one with important information on who to improve one's health and lessen the risk for brain cancer.Very much worth reading.
Harlan879 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like many autobiographies, that of Keith Black, MD is of someone who has done many fascinating things, but writing is not one of those things. Even with an experienced medical journalist by his side, Black has written an occasionally tedious history of his life and his illustrious career in medical research and surgery. This is not to say the book is without value. Some of the walkthroughs of the surgeries were fascinating, and I learned a lot about how that process works. Some (but not all) of the descriptions of the racial obstacles Dr. Black had to overcome are inspiring. But it's interesting that the only people who come across as being full-fledged humans are the patients. Not Dr. Black's father, who was apparently a perfect man, or his mentors, who are only opportunities for letters of recommendation, or his family, who get perhaps two sentences in the whole book. I also take issue with Dr. Black's not-very-thoughtful attempt at critiquing the American healthcare system. I'm very glad that Dr. Black is behind the knife, rather than behind the pen, or behind the legislation.
tobiejonzarelli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles by Keith Black MD:Dr. Black, a highly regarded neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shares his life in an easy to understand manner in this short book. Growing up during the civil rights era in the South, this remarkable African-American man manages to earn both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan in six year, and then his is well on his way to exploring `tiger country¿ ¿his metaphor for the dangers associated with brain surgery. However, the book did not meet my expectations, I learned more about Dr. Black and less about his surgeries, his field of expertise and his patients than I had anticipated. I don¿t think he is grandstanding here, rather he gets more carried away by how he got to this position, rather than exactly what his position entails. I was hoping for a broad view of brain surgery and it¿s patients and doctors, and found rather a short autobiography. That is fine, it¿s just not what I expected.
delan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brain Surgeon is subtitled "A Doctor's Inspiring Encounter with Mortality and Miracles" and the case studies are as miraculous as one can expect with high-tech surgery in a first class hospital. There are a few mentions of miracles and interventions from on high, but for the most part the book is the celebration of a black man's journey through the thickets of discrimination and out by virtue of extreme talent, supportive parents, and hard work.Written in a conversational tone the book is easy to read, sending me to the dictionary for several medical terms, but otherwise fast and simple. One glaring error of major importance stands out: at one point the authors talk about the "cloaking device" used in Star Trek by "the Klingons." But wait, every good Trekkie knows that the Romulans were the inventors and users of the cloaking device!A bit self-serving, but the case studies are interesting and the procedures described are quite amazing. In trying not to offend anyone the authors are not critical of alternative medicines and come across as good religious believers.
kidzdoc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dr. Keith Black is the chairman of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who specializes in the surgical and medical treatment of brain tumors. He has gained widespread recognition for his clinical skill in treating brain cancers, and has been featured in Time Magazine, CBS News and PBS' The History Makers.Brain Surgeon is an enjoyable and inspiring story about his career, obstacles he overcame along the way, battles and controversies he has encountered in providing the best care for his patients, and the advances of clinical brain tumor research that are allowing patients to live longer and, in some cases, making disease remission possible.Although the story centers on Dr. Black's impressive accomplishments, equal billing is given to several patients, who he claims are the true heroes of this book. They are fully engaged in the treatment plan, and the trust and faith that they have in Dr. Black is matched by his respect and desire to help them as best he can.The book is written for a lay audience, and would be appropriate for high school and college students interested in medicine and neurosurgery, or anyone else interested in stories of faith and inspiration.
readerbynight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brain Surgeon: a Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles by Keith Black, MD with Arnold MannA very impressive book, almost autobiographical in nature, with real life cases and the inspiration arising from them. Dr. Black has let the reader in on how the patients respond to their struggles with optimism and faith, and how much this can affect the outcome of surgery and treatment. His examples and descriptions of the types of tumors, surgeries, and treatments are fascinating. He shows a profound connection with his patients which I found exceptional. The book also goes into how patient response and variations (¿odd observations¿) often help the surgeons to discover new possibilities in their research into brain tumors, malignant or benign. Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of the book to me, is his outlook on the use of alternative medicine working alongside the synthetic drug therapies normally used (chemotherapy), citing Chinese medicine, homeopathy and Indian medicine among others.Apart from the case stories, Dr. Black delves into his own background, and brings the reader in touch with the realities of trying to achieve his goals as a black man in a still mostly segregated era; the struggles, his extremely high rate of academic achievement notwithstanding, the faith that propels him, and the parents who raised him to believe in himself. Dr. Keith Black is, as of this writing, ¿ internationally renowned neurosurgeon and scientist...¿, ¿...chairman of the department of neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.¿*The third main theme involves the research this prestigious surgeon takes a major role in, such as how research evolves, where ideas come from, and how the ¿odd observation¿ can contribute to the pursuit of better methods of treatment. Overall, I definitely recommend this book. I found it to be absorbing, upbeat, inspiring and educational.*Quotes from the book.
Meggo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book expecting it to be Dr. Black's biography. I could not say that this was the case, although some biographical information did creep into the book, as context. This was more a scientific look at brain surgery, the challenges of being a surgeon, and, as Dr. Black so poetically describes it, "a thief in the night in Tiger Country". The book was not badly written (it appeared to be decently ghostwritten), and the stories were quite simply fascinating. Occasionally Dr. Black's own voice could be heard. Undoubtedly brilliant, clearly driven, his sheer perfection would be perhaps a bit tedious at a cocktail party - but I would still invite him. One of the more interesting in the recent spate of "doctors' biographies" I've read.
arubabookwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt that Dr. Black is brilliant. He dissected frogs at the age of 7. During his 10th grade summer job in a research lab he did heart transplants on dogs. As a medical student he made important medical discoveries.He is now a world-reknowned brain surgeon, specializing in the removal of particularly difficult brain tumors. However, while this book is a compendium of his "encounters with mortality and miracles," I did not find it particularly inspiring. It reads like a Reader's Digest adaptation of My Most Memorable Character. There is no music in the prose.And it may have just been me, but I found the tone of the book to be incredibly smug. This is not to say that Dr. Black is not justified in being proud of his accomplishments, and I certainly didn't wish any of his patients harm, but didn't he EVER make a wrong decision or mistake?His patients are for the most part courageous, but Dr. Black even seems to claim some of the credit for their spirit and courage. For example, when the family and brother of a recuperating Irish patient who is despondent and despairing of life are unable to brighten his spirits, Dr. Black saves the day: He tells the patient that he'll go get some whiskey and that they'll have a drink together.. Then the light comes back into his patient's eyes. "Gerald Kelly was back. Behind me I could hear Thomas crying."Although I can't recommend this book, I will say that if I ever have a brain tumor, I might want Dr. Black to be the one to operate on me, if he is as good as he describes himself to be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave me hope that a diagnosis of glioblastoma is not an automatic death sentence and much progress has been made in treating this type of cancer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Lexie69 More than 1 year ago
Brain Surgeon, by Keith Black is a very intriguing and inspirational novel. Throughout the book Keith takes you into the life of a brain surgeon showing just how many risks he takes in a single day. He shows the physical, emotional, and mental effects of such a grueling career. Through his experiences he discovers the struggles and rewards that come with his career. Even though he is the guy of bad news sometimes he never gives up on any patient and always wants the best for every one of his patients. In his stories he shows that even when there is a slim to none chance of survival he does what’s best for the patient even if it’s creating a miracle. He is truly a remarkable doctor!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard book to put down.
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cathifornia More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that are difficult to put down! Well written, very inspirational and moving. Being a brain tumor survivor myself at a very young age, it made me realize what my family must have gone through during my operation and recovery. This book was also a "reminder" of how lucky I was to survive, and how thankful I am for all of the doctors, nurses and medical staff that saved my life! Thank you, Dr. Black for writing such an incredible book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Black is amazing and everyone that has ever had to deal with a brain tumor or family member with one- needs to read this book. Dr. Black is a legend and his insight is professional and dynamic! He truly is a remarkable doctor!
OOSABookClub More than 1 year ago
In this inspiring book, Dr. Keith Black wastes no time distilling the complex, frustrating but often fulfilling role as a doctor. "My patients fight their disease with the greatest dignity and spirit one can ever imagine. Their courage inspires me to focus every drop of energy I have in myself to provide them with the best odds possible to beat this disease, or at least give them as much quality life as our surgeries and medicines will allow. They are my heroes, and I hope one day all of their bravery and determination will help lead to a cure," he states. In "Brain Surgery: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles," Black discusses expectations, hopes, fears and much more. He details encounters with patients of all walks of life, ranging from a wealthy Hong Kong entrepreneur to a pastor of a church to a grandmother to a member of a successful R&B/hip-hop group. Detailed are the highs and lows you would expect from someone fighting for their life, and not always having the easiest time doing so. Along the way, Black relates his experiences as a young African American growing up in the South and reaching the heights as a world renowned neurosurgeon. His experiences, both losses and successes, he finds worthwhile and so will readers. Black also gives us much to consider such as potential environmental dangers and risks associated with things we do in our everyday lives like cell phone usage. Reviewed by: Tracy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in a book club. Three of us are retired nurses. Three have no medical training at all. All six of us thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned so much about brain tumors as well as who to try to get in to see for sure if we or anyone in our family ever develops one!! Additionally the personal history was not unexpected but so well told.
Slessman More than 1 year ago
BRAIN SURGEON A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles Keith Black, MD with Arnold Mann Wellness Central Hachette Book Group ISBN: 978-0-446-58109-7 $24.99 Reviewer: Annie Slessman Not being in the medical field, I expected BRAIN SURGEON, A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles by Keith Black, MD with Arnold Mann to be a hard, dry read. I could not have been more wrong! Dr. Black and Arnold Mann have managed to take a subject matter - brain surgery - from the mysterious to something easily understood by everyone. Dr. Black uses a series of stories about his patients and their courage and surprising stamina to relate his experiences and inform the reader about the mysteries of the brain. Each story explains the many types of brain cancer and the degree of difficulty that each occurrence requires in its treatment. For instance, my own daughter was recently diagnosed with a tumor in her liver. We were told the tumor was not cancerous. She had only taken a MRI - how can they tell the tumor is not cancerous by an image test? Well, I got my answer when Dr. Black explained that a tumor which is cancerous absorbs more of the dye making it more prominent in the MRI. Thank you, Dr. Black, I found your book and its ability to explain things in simple terms very comforting. Dr. Black, early in his career leans toward cardiology. When he took his first neuro-anatomy class, he was hooked. As he states, "the bottom line is that the heart is just a muscle, a pump, to be sure, it's a very elegant muscle and a great pump, but it's still a pump. The brain, on the other hand, is the ultimate reduction of self." When explaining a specific treatment he likens his vaccine to that of a warrior fighting a terrorist (cancer). This vaccine seeks out the bad cancer cells and "presents" them to the body's killer T-cells. Killer T-cells are a special variety of white blood cells, or lymphocytes. When the vaccine presents these bad cells to the Killer T-cells they know to attack. Don't you absolutely love this analogy? Most everyone can understand this process with the use of this analogy. Quite often, I donate my review books to the local library. It is my way of giving the gift of knowledge. However, I just cannot bring myself to donate this book. It will remain in my own library.