Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Better

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Better

A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

by Atul Gawande

Better by Atul Gawande
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2008, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Atul Gawande, a 2006 MacArthur fellow, is a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and a frequent contributor to The New England Journal of Medicine. He lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts.

Both his parents were physicians — his father a urologist and his mother a pediatrician — and initially he resisted following in their footsteps and instead wanted to be a musician: "I wanted to be a rock star. I played guitar and wrote songs and even had a couple of club shows. I was just terrible."

Attending Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship he considered becoming a philosopher until he realized he didn't have the knack for asking the right sort of philosophical questions, and so he went to medical school after all. "It turns out you can be a doctor and be almost anything," he says. "Even a writer." After Oxford he worked in a research laboratory and as an adviser to the Clinton administration on health policy before earning his M.D. in 1995.

He began contributing little pieces to Slate about 10 years ago, while still a resident. "Slate was perfect for me," he explains, "because it enabled me to fly under the radar. It was just like going through surgical residency. I did 30 columns for them, and it was like doing 30 gallbladders. Then I had to learn how to get comfortable with 4,000-word and then 8,000-word essays for The New Yorker."

He now feels that writing is the most important thing he does: "In some ways, it's harder than surgery. But I do think I've found a theme in trying to understand failure and what it means in the world we live in, and how we can improve at what we do." More.

This article was originally published in April 2007, and has been updated for the February 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Ghachar Ghochar
    by Vivek Shanbhag
    The Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) that has dominated economic news headlines over the past decade is the...
  • Book Jacket: Caught in the Revolution
    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport
    So taken were BookBrowse's First Impression reviewers by the inside look at the start of the Russian...
  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Harvard is the storehouse of knowledge because the freshmen bring so much in and the graduates take so little out.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -