Tuesday, March 06, 2018

REVIEW: Anaesthesia


The Gift Of Oblivion And The Mystery Of Consciousness

By Kate Cole-Adams

Text Publishing, February 2018 (in UK)

If you have any worries about needing an anaesthetic in the near future, this is definitely NOT a book you want to read. Modern anaesthesia is generally very safe and very effective, but what frightened me most was the fact that nobody, not even the anesthetists who use these medications every working day, is entirely certain how they actually work...... and why, sometimes, they don't. 

What exact part of our brain do they affect? Do they affect the entire brain and make it utterly impossible for your brain and body to retain any sort of awareness of trauma inflicted in surgery?  
Does anaesthetic awareness happen more often than we think? 
Does the lack of hard knowledge unduly worry some anaesthetists? Surprisingly not.
What constitutes consciousness anyway, and what makes us remember things? (And that really is a can of worms!)

Kate Cole-Adams is an Australian journalist with a long-term interest in anesthesia and its problems, who needed to undergo major surgery herself, and this book is the result of her researches and her own experiences. It is an interesting book, with lots of fascinating medical research introduced and referenced,  but the large amount of speculation as to the nature of consciousness could perhaps have been more tightly edited as parts of the book did tend to ramble somewhat, making it a lengthy read indeed.

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REVIEW: Pilgrimage


The Great Pilgrim Routes Of Britain And Europe

By Derry Brabbs

Frances Lincoln/ Quarto, October 2017

One might be forgiven for thinking there is a plethora of books about pilgrimages, and indeed there are, mainly concentrating on brief glimpses of many pilgrimages or in-depth travelogues of one major route.

This, however, is quite different and concentrates on the lesser known pilgrim routes for long-distance walkers, even those keen enough to tackle the Great St Bernard  Pass!

You will find the new pilgrim route of St Cuthbert leading to Holy Island, the route to St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, the route to St Winefride's shrine at Holywell in Wales,  the French leg of the Camino to Compostela, the route from Cologne to Trier in Germany, Rouen to Mont St Michel, which graces the front cover, Seville to Astorga, Munich to Lindau,  La Verna to Assisi, and the longest route, Calais to Rome.

It is a fairly short book, only 256 pages, but it manages to pack in plenty of historical detail, pointers on what not to miss and best of all, the most glorious photographs of the lovely scenery. There really are not enough words to describe how beautiful this book is; it has earned a place in my library and inspired a burning desire to follow some of these paths for myself one day.

My only quibble may be that it did not include the modern Cistercian Way pilgrimage across Wales too, but perhaps that may follow in a subsequent volume :-)

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