Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

by Ben Carson, Cecil Murphey

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Ben Carson, M.D., works medical miracles. Today, he's one of the most celebrated neurosurgeons in the world. In Gifted Hands, he tells of his inspiring odyssey from his childhood in inner-city Detroit to his position as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33. Ben Carson is a role model for anyone who attempts the seemingly impossible as he takes you into the operating room where he has saved countless lives. Filled with fascinating case histories, this is the dramatic and intimate story of Ben Carson's struggle to beat the odds — and of the faith and genius that make him one of the greatest life-givers of the century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310214694
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 12/01/1996
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 31,362
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. Carson is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1984, he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he retired from in 2013. In 2008, he was named the inaugural recipient of a professorship in his name, the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N., Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Also in 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land. He was the keynote speaker for the President’s National Prayer Breakfasts in 1997 and 2013. Through his philanthropic foundation, the Carson Scholars Fund, he strives to maximize the intellectual potential of every child. An internationally renowned physician, Dr. Carson has authored over a hundred neurosurgical publications and has been awarded more than sixty honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations. Dr. Carson has written six best-selling books, and his fifth book, America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, released in early 2012, made the New York Times Bestseller List. His sixth book, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future, was released in 2014, and became a number one New York Times bestseller. He is a syndicated columnist and a highly sought-after, world-renowned inspirational and motivational speaker.

Cecil Murphey, author of 112 books, has also assisted well-known personalities in writing their biographies.

Read an Excerpt

Gifted Hands

The Ben Carson Story
By Ben Carson Cecil Murphey


Copyright © 1990 Review and Herald Publishing Association
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-54651-6

Chapter One

"Goodbye, Daddy"

And your daddy isn't going to live with us anymore."

"Why not?" I asked again, choking back the tears. I just could not accept the strange finality of my mother's words. "I love my dad!"

"He loves you too, Bennie ... but he has to go away. For good."

"But why? I don't want him to go. I want him to stay here with us."

"He's got to go-"

"Did I do something to make him want to leave us?"

"Oh, no, Bennie. Absolutely not. Your daddy loves you."

I burst into tears. "Then make him come back."

"I can't. I just can't." Her strong arms held me close, trying to comfort me, to help me stop crying. Gradually my sobs died away, and I calmed down. But as soon as she loosened her hug and let me go, my questions started again.

"Your Daddy did-" Mother paused, and, young as I was, I knew she was trying to find the right words to make me understand what I didn't want to grasp. "Bennie, your daddy did some bad things. Real bad things."

I swiped my hand across my eyes. "You can forgive him then. Don't let him go."

"It's more than just forgiving him,Bennie-"

"But I want him to stay here with Curtis and me and you."

Once again Mother tried to make me understand why Daddy was leaving, but her explanation didn't make a lot of sense to me at 8 years of age. Looking back, I don't know how much of the reason for my father's leaving sank into my understanding. Even what I grasped, I wanted to reject. My heart was broken because Mother said that my father was never coming home again. And I loved him.

Dad was affectionate. He was often away, but when he was home he'd hold me on his lap, happy to play with me whenever I wanted him to. He had great patience with me. I particularly liked to play with the veins on the back of his large hands, because they were so big. I'd push them down and watch them pop back up. "Look! They're back again!" I'd laugh, trying everything within the power of my small hands to make his veins stay down. Dad would sit quietly, letting me play as long as I wanted.

Sometimes he'd say, "Guess you're just not strong enough," and I'd push even harder. Of course nothing worked, and I'd soon lose interest and play with something else.

Even though Mother said that Daddy had done some bad things, I couldn't think of my father as "bad," because he'd always been good to my brother, Curtis, and me. Sometimes Dad brought us presents for no special reason. "Thought you'd like this," he'd say offhandedly, a twinkle in his dark eyes.

Many afternoons I'd pester my mother or watch the clock until I knew it was time for my dad to come home from work. Then I'd rush outside to wait for him. I'd watch until I saw him walking down our alley. "Daddy! Daddy!" I'd yell, running to meet him. He would scoop me into his arms and carry me into the house.

That stopped in 1959 when I was 8 years old and Daddy left home for good. To my young, hurting heart the future stretched out forever. I couldn't imagine a life without Daddy and didn't know if Curtis, my 10-year-old brother, or I would ever see him again.

* * *

I don't know how long I continued the crying and questioning the day Daddy left; I only know it was the saddest day of my life. And my questions didn't stop with my tears. For weeks I pounded my mother with every possible argument my mind could conceive, trying to find some way to get her to make Daddy come back home.

"How can we get by without Daddy?"

"Why don't you want him to stay?"

"He'll be good. I know he will. Ask Daddy. He won't do bad things again."

My pleading didn't make any difference. My parents had settled everything before they told Curtis and me.

"Mothers and fathers are supposed to stay together," I persisted. "They're both supposed to be with their little boys."

"Yes, Bennie, but sometimes it just doesn't work out right."

"I still don't see why," I said. I thought of all the things Dad did with us. For instance, on most Sundays, Dad would take Curtis and me for drives in the car. Usually we visited people, and we'd often stop by to see one family in particular. Daddy would talk with the grown-ups, while my brother and I played with the children. Only later did we learn the truth - my father had another "wife" and other children that we knew nothing about.

I don't know how my mother found out about his double life, for she never burdened Curtis and me with the problem. In fact, now that I'm an adult, my one complaint is that she went out of her way to protect us from knowing how bad things were. We were never allowed to share how deeply she hurt. But then, that was Mother's way of protecting us, thinking she was doing the right thing. And many years later I finally understood what she called his "betrayals with women and drugs."

Long before Mother knew about the other family, I sensed things weren't right between my parents. My parents didn't argue; instead, my father just walked away. He had been leaving the house more and more and staying away longer and longer. I never knew why.

Yet when Mother told me "Your daddy isn't coming back," those words broke my heart.

I didn't tell Mother, but every night when I went to bed I prayed, "Dear Lord, help Mother and Dad get back together again." In my heart I just knew God would help them make up so we could be a happy family. I didn't want them to be apart, and I couldn't imagine facing the future without my father.

But Dad never came home again.

As the days and weeks passed, I learned we could get by without him. We were poorer then, and I could tell Mother worried, although she didn't say much to Curtis or me. As I grew wiser, and certainly by the time I was 11, I realized that the three of us were actually happier than we had been with Dad in the house. We had peace. No periods of deathly silence filled the house. I no longer froze with fear or huddled in my room, wondering what was happening when Mother and Daddy didn't talk.

That's when I stopped praying for them to get back together. "It's better for them to stay split up," I said to Curtis. "Isn't it?"

"Yeah, guess so," he answered. And, like Mother, he didn't say much to me about his own feelings. But I think I knew that he too reluctantly realized that our situation was better without our father.

Trying to remember how I felt in those days after Dad left, I'm not aware of going through stages of anger and resentment. My mother says that the experience pushed Curtis and me into a lot of pain. I don't doubt that his leaving meant a terrible adjustment for both of us boys. Yet I still have no recollection beyond his initial leaving.

Maybe that's how I learned to handle my deep hurt - by forgetting.

* * *

We just don't have the money, Bennie."

In the months after Dad left, Curtis and I must have heard that statement a hundred times, and, of course, it was true. When we asked for toys or candy, as we'd done before, I soon learned to tell from the expression on Mother's face how deeply it hurt her to deny us. After a while I stopped asking for what I knew we couldn't have anyway.

In a few instances resentment flashed across my mother's face. Then she'd get very calm and explain to us boys that Dad loved us but wouldn't give her any money to support us. I vaguely recall a few times when Mother went to court, trying to get child support from him. Afterward, Dad would send money for a month or two - never the full amount - and he always had a legitimate excuse. "I can't give you all of it this time," he'd say, "but I'll catch up. I promise."

Dad never caught up. After a while Mother gave up trying to get any financial help from him.

I was aware that he wouldn't give her money, which made life harder on us. And in my childish love for a dad who had been kind and affectionate, I didn't hold it against him. But at the same time I couldn't understand how he could love us and not want to give us money for food.

One reason I didn't hold any grudges or harsh feelings toward Dad must have been that my mother seldom blamed him - at least not to us or in our hearing. I can hardly think of a time when she spoke against him.

More important than that fact, though, Mother managed to bring a sense of security to our three-member family. While I still missed Dad for a long time, I felt a sense of contentment being with just my mother and my brother because we really did have a happy family.

My mother, a young woman with hardly any education, came from a large family and had many things against her. Yet she pulled off a miracle in her own life, and helped in ours. I can still hear Mother's voice, no matter how bad things were, saying, "Bennie, we're going to be fine." Those weren't empty words either, for she believed them. And because she believed them, Curtis and I believed them too, and they provided a comforting assurance for me.

Part of Mother's strength came from a deep-seated faith in God and perhaps just as much from her innate ability to inspire Curtis and me to know she meant every word she said. We knew we weren't rich; yet no matter how bad things got for us, we didn't worry about what we'd have to eat or where we'd live.

Our growing up without a father put a heavy burden on my mother. She didn't complain - at least not to us - and she didn't feel sorry for herself. She tried to carry the whole load, and somehow I understood what she was doing. No matter how many hours she had to be away from us at work, I knew she was doing it for us. That dedication and sacrifice made a profound impression on my life.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother." I'm not sure I want to say it quite like that, but my mother, Sonya Carson, was the earliest, strongest, and most impacting force in my life.

It would be impossible to tell about my accomplishments without starting with my mother's influence. For me to tell my story means beginning with hers.


Excerpted from Gifted Hands by Ben Carson Cecil Murphey Copyright © 1990 by Review and Herald Publishing Association. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1"Goodbye, Daddy"11
Chapter 2Carrying the Load17
Chapter 3Eight Years Old23
Chapter 4Two Positives32
Chapter 5A Boy's Big Problem45
Chapter 6A Terrible Temper54
Chapter 7ROTC Triumph61
Chapter 8College Choices71
Chapter 9Changing the Rules80
Chapter 10A Serious Step91
Chapter 11Another Step Forward112
Chapter 12Coming Into My Own123
Chapter 13A Special Year135
Chapter 14A Girl Named Maranda146
Chapter 15Heartbreak155
Chapter 16Little Beth167
Chapter 17Three Special Children177
Chapter 18Craig and Susan185
Chapter 19Separating the Twins201
Chapter 20The Rest of Their Story213
Chapter 21Family Affairs219
Chapter 22Think Big225

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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 290 reviews.
ZoZo More than 1 year ago
Oh my goodness!!!! Where can I start? This book was truly amzing and inspirational. I absolutely loved it! Dr. Ben Carson's story is truly incredible. He grew up without much, and was teased a lot as a child, but he still managed to keep his head up, stay at the top of his class, and eventually, he followed his dream, and became one of the world's top neurosurgeons. I admire him so much. I would recommend this book to EVERYONE. It's for people of all ages, and this book will truly touch you and possibly change the way you see things and people. Please read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been searching for this book after I heard an interview with Dr. Carson on 98rock (baltimore radio station). So many people need to hear "people are just people". I wish his mom wrote a book on parenting :)
BPR More than 1 year ago
This is an inspiring true story of an illiterate mother's faith and requirement of the highest standards for her children that encouraged her son, against all odds, to become a reknowned pediatric neurosurgeon. He candidly tells his struggles, failures, and ultimate victories. Gripping story, an enjoyable must read! The movie is very good, too - but a book tells so much more of the inner person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"gifted hands" is a very moving memoir by one of this nations top surgeons in the country. as a child he was not doing very well in school and was involved in gang activity and did not want to read his father had left the family and as a child he had a bad temper. dr carson shows in this amazing book how his mother and faith books turned his life around so much so that he was able to go to college and later become a top doctor that helps children. anyone can be greatly encouraged by this doctors life as well as the life lessons that he shares in the back of the book great gift idea for a friend or family member.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just purchased, I can tell you this is going to be great. Im in ten pages and had to stop to give it five stars. †
Guest More than 1 year ago
A truly remarkable story about a remarkable man's journey to do God's will for him in this lifetime and help the entire human race in the process. We need more Ben Carson's to be sure. It reminded me of the importance of belief in oneself and humility throughout our lives. I feel fortunate to live in a country where the Ben Carson story can be the norm rather than the exception. He is an exceptional human being. Thanks Dr. Carson for keeping your focus all these years on God and his will for you. You have brightened this planet with your joy for your work and family.
_skuaarsd_ More than 1 year ago
The autobiography Gifted Hands by Ben Carson is an inspiring story of how an inner-city Detroit kid becomes one of the best neurosurgeons in the world.  He shows how he beat racism, and how he embraces the power of God to perform miracles. He shows how he struggled through college, and how he fell in love.  He describes the hard decisions he had to make, and how he made them.  In all, it was a very good read, and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can not believe that someone thinks that Dr. Ben Carson's story is self-serving. This book tells his story, and I have had the privilege of meeting him personally. He is a true servant-leader, a genuinely humble man in that he gives all credit for his success to God and his mother. One of the most inspirational people alive today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really thought this was a good book, really inspiring. It tells the story of how Ben Carson struggled beginning in elementary school being the slow one that always got everything wrong in class to being the highest achiever in his high school years. This book comes to show that anything is possible as long as you work hard on it and don¿t give up. We all go through our struggles as well as Ben he had to go through his parent¿s separation when he was only eight years old. Those were only the beginning of his problems. Only reading the book will tell you what other struggles Ben goes through. When I started reading this, I thought to myself ¿Oh this is just some lame book I was assigned to read!¿ but as I started reading it I really got into it. The characters in the book all seem to be Ben¿s inspiration to be everything he can be. It almost relates to me because a lot of people in my life are my inspiration to always do my best and not to quit. His brother and mother seem to be the pushing force behind all of Ben¿s success. Ben is a lot like me in many ways, we both went through some really hard times that were hard to overcome. But in the end, I always somehow get by it as well as Ben in this story. My overall review has to say that this book is an inspirational story that motivates anyone who reads it to try to succeed and always do their best, because in the end its always worth the try.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I read in 'ONE' day.I simply couldn't put it down.I plan on reading it to my students here at school.Everybody should read this wonderful book!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt that this book was very inspirational, that despite many obstacles this man was able to overcome them and become a wonderful physician that is able to help many people especially children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is hard to remain neutral as I work with Dr. Carson. He is a very intelligent man. It is great to see someone come from nothing to something. Very inspirational to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that Gifted Hands is a very inspirational and educational book and everyone should read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr.Ben Carson is a role model to me he had some of the same home issues I have. He always wanted to become a doctor, which he did. This lets me know as student it does not matter where you come from it is where you are going. Just keep GOD number one and you will be alright.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well written and straightforward boigraphy. He could have made this a race issue but its more than that. Its a human race issue of overcoming obstacles to be the best person he could be. Love him! Loved the book!
carolbf More than 1 year ago
Great book was able to share it with a few inmates at a correctional facility,and they were all inspired by same.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fabulous man, doctor and fabulous mother!! What a great biography!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for summer reading, and I really thought it was going to be boring, but I was wrong. When I started reading, I couldn't stop. Like the others have said, it is a very inspirational book, inspiring you to do your best and have faith in God. This book makes me want to know more about surgery, more specifically the brain. The first part of the book about his childhood is a little boring at first, personally I enjoyed the second half (adulthood) better than the first half. This man is truly amazing in what he does, saving children(and some adults for that matter) when others have failed. A terrific book about a terrific man. I fully recommend it to teens and adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would love to meet Dr. Carson! What a humble and holy person. It was difficult to put the book down and with all his education made all the technical information easy to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an inspiring man! Ben Carson for president!
JakeNJ More than 1 year ago
Besides the obvious, this book should have been called "Gifted Mind". Besides many lives that Doctor Benjamin Carson saved, through his skills, his teachings, his encouragement to others, he saved the most important live, and that was his own. His mind, will to succeed, never give up and never blame anyone but himself, is what got him where he was and where he is today.  There are two types of people, who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. One type tries and when unsuccessful, they blame everyone and everything. There is another type. Those who don't even try and go straight to blame via victim mentality and a problem that exists in society, never in themselves. Benjamin Carson is the third kind, the kind that sees potential and the light in every situation, a light in every possibility and each opportunity. Mr Carson was not born with that opportunity, that silver spoon in his mouth, and in fact, for the inner city kid, who had even less than others, even within that community, Benjamin Carson chose to create his own opportunity. He chose to see the downfalls as challenges, not discouragements. Doctor Carson saw a challenge, not despair or downfall, in everything he did and does. He chose to take life as it comes and play the deck as it was dealt to him, but with his best foot forward and his best possible abilities.  This is a story of a man who never accepted what he had as a problem and what he was as a given, but decided to make himself the best that he could be and what his potential allowed him. He was only limited by himself, not what the others saw him and he never excepted failure. As I often say and many do as well, that America is a land of opportunity, but that doesn't mean that opportunity is there for everyone to receive without trying. Some have a gift of birth with fortune and the riches, but for Ben Carson, his fortune and riches was always within himself. It is one of the most inspiring stories and books that I have ever read. It is a real page turner and if they would have taught this mentality to kids, at the young age, we would see a lot more winners and not victims in every walk of life. I wish I read this book when I was in my teens, but better late than never. I loved it and highly recommend it to everyone. I personally think that this should be required reading in schools, so that the kids realize their potential and strive to better themselves through every challenge. This way the children from the young age can create their own opportunities and take advantage of those opportunities in life. 
Janice_B More than 1 year ago
Great man; Great read. I don't believe we have heard the last of Dr. Ben Carson. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book would be at the top of my recommendations list. I have admired Dr. Carson for some time, and even more so after learning his life story. It is amazing to read of the surgeries he has performed on children who otherwise had no chance of recovery from brain disease or injury. By all means, read this book! He is truly a great surgeon and a great man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He may be an incredible doctor, but that does not make him a good author. This book is written at an elementary school reading level. I just was hoping for a more intellectual read. Would recommend for 4th graders.