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Heart: A History

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019


‘Jauhar weaves his own personal and family story into his history of the heart…very effectively… This gives a certain dramatic tension to the book, as it tells the fascinating and rather wonderful history of cardiology.’

–Henry Marsh, New Statesman

A Mail on Sunday Book of the Year

The heart lies at the centre of life. For cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar it is an obsession.

In this fascinating history he interweaves gripping scenes from the operating theatre with the moving tale of his family’s history of heart problems – from the death of his grandfather to the ominous signs of how he himself might die.

Jauhar looks at the pioneers who risked patients’ lives and their own careers, and confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that how we live is more important than any device or drug we may invent. Heart is the all-encompassing story of the engine of life.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (September 27, 2018)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781786072962

‘A book of unusual depth and richness about a subject that concerns us all…Heart: A history is elegantly conceived and still more elegantly executed…Sandeep Jauhar writes with a vital, pulsating energy.’


‘Jauhar weaves his own personal and family story into his history of the heart…very effectively… This gives a certain dramatic tension to the book, as it tells the fascinating and rather wonderful history of cardiology.’

– Henry Marsh, New Statesman

‘[An] absorbing book about the vital organ that keeps us alive.’

– Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year 2018

‘This is a vital book. A charming, honest and unflinching exploration of a most fascinating organ: the heart. Cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar beautifully weaves medical research with philosophy, science with personal stories – of patients and doctors, including his very own. The depth of his knowledge is remarkable but the breadth of his compassion even more so.’

– Elif Shafak, Chair, 2019 Wellcome Book Prize

‘A moving narrative echoing to the beat of “this organ, prime mover and citadel”.’

– Nature

‘Gripping… Jauhar hooks the reader of Heart from the first few pages… Most chapters launch with a riveting scene… Fun facts are sprinkled throughout… Heart is chock-full of absorbing tales that infuse fresh air into a topic that is often relegated to textbooks or metaphors about pumps, plumbing, or love.’

– New York Times Book Review

‘Dr. 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

‘Jauhar…is our trusty guide through a compelling story about what makes each and every one of us tick… Both primer and ode, Heart is a fascinating education for those of us who harbour this most hallowed organ but know little about it.’

– Washington Post

‘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

‘Part-memoir, part-history of his medical specialty, Heart links the physical organ with the emotional one.’

– Spectator

‘The cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar has become a Dante of modern medicine… 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.’

– Wall Street Journal

‘Cardiologist Jauhar 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

‘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