Cover Image: The Source of All Things

The Source of All Things

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Member Reviews

As a mother of an amazing heart warrior, I’ve found myself devouring every book about the heart I could find over the years.  So when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it and I’m so glad I did. I loved how this combined textbook education about the heart, along with interesting case studies and then mashed it together with his own personal growth as a surgeon. For me, you often see the heart surgeon who saved your loved ones life as somewhat of a god. Reading this book however gives you insight on how emotional that journey to become a surgeon is and how deeply it can effect you, both positive and negatively. 

Overall, it was a very interesting book to read.
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Reinhard Friedl is a heart surgeon who takes us on a journey to understand the heart. He presents findings on the connection between the heart and the brain as well as patient stories.

I really enjoyed hearing his patient stories, but I do wish the book was organized better. It would've been cool to read about more patient stories in detail as they were short and sweet (I know some people enjoy that style though). There were scientific studies mixed in that I found very interesting, but again I wish it was better organized. It could've worked better as alternating chapters as it was very messy at times.

I'm really intrigued by medicine, and I did learn a lot of new facts that I didn't know before! Overall, it was a really quick read and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
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This look at our most written about organ is accessible and informative.  Blending case studies and science with the emotional views of the heart, it takes the reader on an informative journey.  There are plenty of notes and references for those who wish to delve deeper.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Interesting read.
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The Source of All Things is a layman accessible look at the interplay between the heart and the mind and emotions from the perspective of a cardiac surgeon. Originally published in German in 2019, this English language translation is due out 24th Aug 2021 from Macmillan on their St. Martin's Press imprint. It's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. 

I am a medical professional in a histopathology lab. My day job is to prepare cancer biopsies and other patient samples into finished slides to be diagnosed by pathologists. Objectivity is paramount for both quality control and for maintaining enough emotional distance to protect the mental health of the person interacting with the samples. In the same way, the objectivity of a surgeon allows him/her to literally hold an organ in their hands and make the necessary adjustments to allow the patient to heal, if possible. Precisely the same objectivity, erected intentionally as defense, can also build a wall between us and feeling too deeply or completely. 

This book is one surgeon's story of his own training, the emotional toll of his work, and his personal growth toward empathy. He's witty and well spoken and the book includes many asides along the way into interesting and enlightening physiology of the body and its inner workings which are mostly hidden from the vast majority. 

There are numerous case histories scattered throughout, though the book is not primarily concerned with actual treatment and recovery. It's layman accessible (I don't trust my own judgement on the subject since this is more or less my day job, but I asked a family member who isn't in medicine), and it's meticulously annotated throughout. The chapter notes and bibliography will give ample scope for further reading. Most of the links to peer-reviewed papers are in English, but many will require more in-depth knowledge and aren't especially layman accessible. 

I found the translation work to be seamlessly done. It didn't feel as though it had been translated and there weren't any abrupt or odd sentence constructions which felt unnatural or artificial. 

As popular science writing, it's appealing and engaging to read. The author has a lot to say about the connections between physiology and emotional health. I personally felt whilst reading that he shaded ever so slightly over into a sort of borderland between hard science and philosophy which (for me personally) felt a little "pop-psych-ish".  

Four stars. I would recommend this one for fans of popular science. It would also be a good fit for caregivers, medical professionals, and some patients. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Reinhard Friedl begins his book, The Source of All Things: A Heart Surgeon’s Quest to Understand Our Most Mysterious Organ, from the vantage point of his life as a heart surgeon in Germany. I read an advance reading copy of this book furnished by Net Galley that will go on sale on August 24 and is available for pre-order. He writes in language accessible for the lay reader although he looks with the surgeon’s eye at the wonder of the physical heart throughout the book. Some of his observations take in his expertise as a professional but without the jargon that is above the heads of those without medical training. 

He also looks at the emotional heart both from things we know and things we wonder about from the standpoint of its ability to trigger emotions, empathy, and feelings toward others. Then he makes connections between the emotional heart and the physical heart with stories of people who have had experiences that led to some form of interchange between the two hearts as each affected the other. And that’s not all. He adds the brain and wonder about how it connects to both views of the heart. Layers and people’s stories add examples and interest to his points of observation.

He brings together various scientific views, religious insights, and personal experiences to present a more comprehensive view of the heart than just the pump that works all day every day without our thinking much about it until it gives us trouble. The thought-provoking book left me in disagreement here and there, but it also left me in wonder at the relationship of the emotional and physical heart and brain and with a renewed understanding of the importance of living toward both kinds of heart health. It is a book for those who don’t mind looking at things in a new light.
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Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Keep Sharp offered a brain surgeon’s insight into mysteries of brain health, and now Dr. Reinhard Friedl’s Source of All Things gives us a heart surgeon’s view of the wondrous mysteries of the heart.  Dr. Friedl describes the physical functioning of the heart and offers vivid descriptions of the miracles of modern cardiac surgery.  He describes his very personal journey of search for a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of the human heart.  He explores the connections between the heart and the brain, and the sometimes physical and sometimes more philosophical relationships between the heart and the soul, love and consciousness.  Compelling patient stories add texture and insight.  Finally, he offers some guidance toward living a more heart-centered and heart-healthy life.
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Quite good. The medical field has known about the heart/brain connection for a while, but like most things, we're gaining a deeper understanding over time. This is a interesting perspective on the topic with examples and stories, and a more. Recommended for the curious and knowledge seekers. Not sure if medical professionals will this or not.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
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I was prepared to like this book a lot as I've worked in the medical field and love to read medical articles and studies online.  Things started out well and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book centered around patient cases.  I assumed (wrongly) that the book would be mainly about case studies.  Instead the author spent a good deal of time on the interaction between the brain and the heart.  I found little new information, and what was new was only touched upon briefly.  The book is well-written  and thought-provoking on the spiritual level of how the heart functions in concert with the brain.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read and review this book.
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