Oliver Sacks meets Bear Grylls in this unique voyage around the human body, from the prize-winning author of Empire Antarctica. Now available in paperback.
We have a lifetime's association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the reader on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot.
Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practise medicine is to explore new territory: Francis leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human.
Both a user's guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this book will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.
Published in association with the Wellcome Collection.
About the Author
Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Costa Prize. He also writes for the Guardian, the Times, London Review of Books and Granta. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and children.
A sober and beautiful book about the landscape of the human body: thought-provoking and eloquent. * Hilary Mantel *
Wonderful, subtle, unpretentious ... produces a kind of complicity between the author, the reader, and the subject * John Berger *
Immensely engaging. * The Sunday Times *
In Francis's beautifully written, exquisitely thoughtful, and completely captivating cartography, the body is a superbly-lit museum filled with treasures, and Dr. Francis the perfect guide who deftly weaves together science and story to reveal the wondrous flesh-and-blood underpinnings of our daily lives. It's a spellbinding view. -- Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper's Wifeand The Human Age
I read this book transfixed... The style is crisp and fast and the human tales irresistible. I was left with many nuggets. -- Melanie Reid * The Times *
So enthralling and so well written that it should win its own clutch of prizes... immensely engaging and often unexpected. His achievement here is to guide readers through his special landscape with such eloquence and subtlety. -- Nick Rennison * Sunday Times *
Grand, eloquent stuff, occasionally humorous, frequently moving and invariably informative... The end result is a thoroughly entertaining, provocative work. -- Robin McKie * The Observer *
The joy of Mr Francis's work lies in the fact that although he delights in the body's physical reality, he takes care not to reduce human experience to that alone. * The Economist *
A quietly radical, three-dimensional view of issues such as reproduction, birth, death and disability that has the power, at times, to make you stop mid-sentence and carefully reassess some of your most basic assumptions... its greatest strength is its profound yet understated compassion. * The Scotsman *
Praise for Empire Antarctica:
Francis' best writing (and it is excellent)... is Robert Macfarlane on ice. This writing achieves the 'quilted quality' of silence, and through it we are brought to a new landscape of words. * Literary Review *
Empire Antarctica is the embodiment of everything I admire in travel writing -- a great journey, intense isolation, wide reading, vivid writing, scientific research, and something in the nature of an old-fashioned ordeal. That Gavin Francis is a medical doctor, with an important role to play in the darkness and cold at the ends of the earth, is a bonus. I loved this book. -- Paul Theroux
A beautiful, profound and highly readable account of a remarkable personal adventure. Francis's pacing is deft, his prose vivid, his research worn lightly. Empire Antarctica is surely destined to become a standard, not so much of travel as of staying very still. * Daily Telegraph *
A beautifully written guide to our wonders and weaknesses that combines the precision of science with a profound insight into the human condition. -- P D Smith * Guardian *