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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Heart: A History

Heart: A History

Sandeep Jauhar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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The bestselling author of Intern and Doctored tells the story of the thing that makes us tick

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 the 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, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked 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 deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He 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 o… More…

The bestselling author of Intern and Doctored tells the story of the thing that makes us tick

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 the 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, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked 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 deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He 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.

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Introduction:The Engine of Life


There is nothing shameful about a heart attack.

—Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (1978)

Perhaps the most consequential event in my life occurred fifteen years before...

Praise for Heart: A History

An Amazon Best of the Month for September
One of Amazon's Most Anticipated Fall Books

" The cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar has become a Dante of modern medicine, with his earlier memoirs, “Intern” (2008) and “Doctored” (2014), casting the progress from training to career as a path studded with suffering, indignity and ethical hazard. His latest book, “Heart: A History,” is something of a “Paradiso,” pointing to the field’s brightest and noblest stars while recognizing just how much darkness is still left in the firmament . . . Poignant and chattily erudite." —Laura Kolbe, The Wall Street Journal

“Jauhar’s writing blends pathos and playfulness and is suffused with an elegiac tension, haunted as it is by the specter of his own mortality . . . Jauhar invites the reader into the resonant chambers of his heart, narrating the history of an organ while also offering a stirring personal tour of his sorrows.” —Raj Telhan, American Scholar

"Cardiologist Jauhar (Intern) moves beautifully between 'dual tracks' of 'learning about the heart... but also what was in my heart,' . . . Covering enough physiology to make scientific details easily understood, Jauhar emphasizes how brave, desperate, and sometimes foolhardy experiments led to important developments, such as the heart-lung machine . . . Jauhar is thoughtful, self-reflective, and profoundly respectful of doctors and patients alike; readers will respond by opening their … More…

An Amazon Best of the Month for September
One of Amazon's Most Anticipated Fall Books

" The cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar has become a Dante of modern medicine, with his earlier memoirs, “Intern” (2008) and “Doctored” (2014), casting the progress from training to career as a path studded with suffering, indignity and ethical hazard. His latest book, “Heart: A History,” is something of a “Paradiso,” pointing to the field’s brightest and noblest stars while recognizing just how much darkness is still left in the firmament . . . Poignant and chattily erudite." —Laura Kolbe, The Wall Street Journal

“Jauhar’s writing blends pathos and playfulness and is suffused with an elegiac tension, haunted as it is by the specter of his own mortality . . . Jauhar invites the reader into the resonant chambers of his heart, narrating the history of an organ while also offering a stirring personal tour of his sorrows.” —Raj Telhan, American Scholar

"Cardiologist Jauhar (Intern) moves beautifully between 'dual tracks' of 'learning about the heart... but also what was in my heart,' . . . Covering enough physiology to make scientific details easily understood, Jauhar emphasizes how brave, desperate, and sometimes foolhardy experiments led to important developments, such as the heart-lung machine . . . Jauhar is thoughtful, self-reflective, and profoundly respectful of doctors and patients alike; readers will respond by opening their own hearts a little bit, to both grief and wonder." Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

“My friend Sandeep Jauhar has shown us again why he is one of our most diligent teachers. For Jauhar, Heart: A History is a personal journey. Besieged with a tragic history of heart disease, he sets out to change his preordained fate. Along the way, we learn not only the history of the heart, but what we can do to prolong our own heart health.” —Sanjay Gupta, MD, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN and Faculty Neurosurgeon at Emory Clinic

“Sandeep Jauhar writes with the eye of a doctor and the heart of a poet. His latest book, Heart: A History, is a superb tribute to our most vital organ.” —Marilyn Yalom, Stanford University, author of The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love

“An engaging walk through the history of modern cardiology with an authoritative guide. Sandeep Jauhar draws on personal experience, family history, his training and clinical work, and his knowledge of his field to craft an account of the heart—what we know about it and how we came to that understanding—that is at once intimate and comprehensive.” —Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Ordinarily Well

“In Heart: A History, Sandeep Jauhar, one of the most talented physician-writers of our era, takes us on an enlightening, uplifting journey through the major milestones and advances of heart disease—while at the same time anchoring his intimate personal experiences.” —Eric Topol, Scripps Research Institute, author of The Patient Will See You Now

“Sandeep Jauhar expertly weaves little-known tales from medical history into his own personal and professional experiences to create a richly detailed book about the human heart. Thoroughly engrossing and full of historical gems.” —Lindsey Fitzharris, author of The Butchering Art

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Reviews from Goodreads

Sandeep Jauhar

Sandeep Jauhar, MD, PhD, is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is the author of Doctored and Intern and writes regularly for The New York Times. He lives with his wife and their son and daughter on Long Island.

image of Sandeep Jauharo
Maryanne Russell

Meet the Author

September 25 - October 2, 2018

Meet Sandeep Jauhar as he reads from his new book Heart: A History.

READ THE FULL EXCERPT →

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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