Minds, morals, materialism and medullas oblongata

Minds, morals, materialism and medullas oblongata
Henry Marsh has enjoyed an extraordinary career as a brain surgeon

Medicine: Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery, By Henry Marsh, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, €23

The 19th-century conception of the polymath has all but vacated the universities, where scholars now plough increasingly narrow fields. But the idea of the educated generalist lives on at the higher echelons of medicine, where it is not unusual to encounter a figure like Henry Marsh: a neurosurgeon who is also a passionate carpenter, a dedicated outdoorsman (in his late 60s, he still runs 17 miles every weekend), and an articulate critic of public policy. As if that weren’t enough, he also keeps three beehives and is casually knowledgeable about art history.

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