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Summary

An intimate and compelling exploration into the unique psyche of the heart surgeon, by one of the profession’s most eminent figures.

Although Professor Stephen Westaby was born with the necessary coordination and manual dexterity, it was a head trauma sustained during university that gifted him the qualities of an exceptional heart surgeon: qualities that are frequently associated with psychopathy. His 35-year career has been characterised by fearlessness and ruthless ambition, leaving empathy at the hospital door as thousands of patients put their lives in his hands.

For heart surgeons, the inevitable cost of failure is death, and in The Knife’s Edge, Westaby reflects on the unique mind-set of those who are drawn to this exhilarating and often tragic profession. We discover the pioneers who grasped opportunities and took chances to drive innovation and save lives. Often difficult, uninhibited and fearless, theirs is a field constantly threatened by the risk of public failure.

Like those before him, Westaby refuses to draw the line in his search of a lifetime solution to problems of the heart. His determination is unerring - a steadfastness underpinned by his unusual mind. But as we glimpse into the future of cardiac surgery, for all its remarkable scientific advancement, one question remains: within the confines of socialised medical health-care systems, how can heart surgeons - individuals often hardwired with avoidance of self-doubt, a penchant for glory and a flagrant disregard for authority - truly flourish?

©2019 Stephen Westaby (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

What listeners say about The Knife’s Edge

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An insight on the 'sharp end" of our NHS.

A "no holds barred" book written by an eminent heart surgeo. The book is written in such a style that medical terms are kept to a minimum, making the a perfect read for all. It is a book that must be read by medical practitioners, and management including those in Government. One point that he explains clearly is the beurocracy involved between staff and management which makes the system top-heavy. I can't wait to start reading another book by this great man!

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What could’ve been a good book let down by a monotone narrator

I was really looking forward to this book but sadly, I could not get into this book because the narrator was far too monotone and I fell asleep within two minutes as a result I asked for a refund.

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Very interesting book

Good listen, often went back a chapter as you need to have a good level of concentration.Really enjoyed it.

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Mixed views

If you’re not in the business of surgery I’m sure that you’ll find this book fascinating. If you are, then the distinct lack of humility will probably annoy you immensely

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Excellent read

Loved the story line, this book is very educational and entertaining. The narrator is excellent

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Tiring

I generally like this genre but this man’s self satisfied arrogance was really irritating. While I am sure the writer was a talented surgeon, a little more humility would have made this a more bearable read. The narrative was full of his self promoting exploits and detailed descriptions of surgery that only medically trained readers would truly appreciated.

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Brilliant

Honest insightful and thought provoking memoir of a fantastic career.
listened to in only a couple of sittings.

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Makes you proud to be from Lincolnshire

Made me realise that as a Podiatrist I could have been a heart surgeon if I had less empathy... brilliant account and insight in to how a normal bloke can help change and improve a niche of surgery that saves so many lives nowadays from one of the worlds biggest killers. A normal bloke who used lateral thinking, courage, and a will to make a difference.. also a story of how the target and name and shame culture is strangulating progression in such an important field of surgery. A great read or listen I should say as gripping as any thriller ....

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What a truly fantastic book!

In my 7 years of audible membership, this is one of the best books I've listened to. At times it brought a lump to my throat, not because it is trying to be sad or dramatic, but the sheer honesty was overwhelmingly refreshing. Great narration too. Highly recommended.