Across the Red Line

Stories from the Surgical Life

Richard C. Karl
Book Cover

PB: $28.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-193-8
Publication: Apr 03

Ebook: $28.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0437-4

160 pages
5.5 x 8.25

In the tradition of Lewis Thomas' The Lives of a Cell, a beautiful book on what it's like to be a surgeon

Read the Introduction and Chapter 1 (pdf).


Richard Karl, a doctor and teacher, takes the reader closer than any writer before into the corridors of the hospital, on the surgical table, and into the world of medicine. In these pages we see the tragedies and triumphs of modern medicine: the beauty of surgery done well, and the aftermath of operations that fail to deliver on the hopes of the doctor and patient. We witness the "M&M"—the morbidity and mortality meeting—where doctors scrutinize their own work and mistakes, and the often inevitable outcomes of treatment. Suffused throughout are Karl’s keen observations on the workings of the human body and its immense capacity for healing.

"...I celebrate the rich privilege accorded the practicing surgeon. The surgical life is really about bearing witness to the human condition and about respecting the many almost whimsical variations of biology and about the intersection of the two. It is remarkable, really, the way I get to know people so intimately so quickly, and to observe the brave and often noble behavior in them, while I witness the relentless push of biology, the aging and decay, the growth and development, but most especially the healing, both physical and emotional. It is this natural drive of our bodies to repair themselves from all injuries (including the surgeon's wounds) that is the centerpiece of medicine. Without it no surgeon could cut."

Written with economy and subtlety, Across the Red Line offers a vivid picture of disease and the miracle of life. It will interest anyone who's ever been on either side of the surgical table.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Across the Red Line 1. M & M 2. How It Comes About That a Successful Operation Ends in Disaster 3. Fate 4. A Columnist Comes to Work 5. Four Patients in Santa Fe 6. Hanging 7. Helping Sal-Knowing When to Quit 8. On the Table 9. Hotel Utah 10. Midwest Bulletin Board 11. Retirement Party 12. Match Day 13. The Norwich Classic Car Rally 14. Luck

About the Author(s)

Richard C. Karl is Connar Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. A frequent contributor to the St. Petersburg Times and a columnist for Flying Magazine, he lives in Tampa.