A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

By Atul Gawande

Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312427658, 273pp.

Publication Date: January 22, 2008


National Bestseller

The struggle to perform well is universal: each of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives may be on the line with any decision.

Atul Gawande, the "New York Times" bestselling author of Complications, examines, in riveting accounts of medical failure and triumph, how success is achieved in this complex and risk-filled profession. At once unflinching and compassionate, "Better" is an exhilarating journey, narrated by "arguably the best nonfiction doctor-writer around" ("").

About the Author

Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: "Complications", a finalist for the National Book Award; "Better", selected by as one of the ten best books of 2007; and "The Checklist Manifesto". His latest book is "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End". He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for "The New Yorker", and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship, and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.

Praise For Better

"Better is a masterpiece, a series of stories set inside the four walls of a hospital that end up telling us something unforgettable about the world outside."--Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink


"Atul Gawande's insightful book illuminates the challenging choices members of the profession face every day."--Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times


"Remarkably honest and human accounts . . . describing professional moments of fear, guilt, embarrassment, and humor . . . Rich in fascinating detail."--The Economist "It's hard to think of a writer working today who makes such good use of man's quest to avoid pain and death. Atul Gawande is not only adding to the small shelf of books by doctors that every layman should read. He's using medicine to help anyone who hopes to do anything better."--Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side 

"Gawande . . . manages to capture medicine in all of its complex and chaotic glory, and to put it, still squirming with life, down on the page. . . . With this book Gawande inspires all of us, doctor or not, to be better."--Pauline W. Chen, The New York Times Book Review


"Gawande is unassuming in every way, and yet his prose is infused with steadfast determination and hope. If society is the patient here, I can't think of a better guy to have our back."--Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe


"This is a book about failure: how it happens, how we learn from it, how we can do better. Although its focus is medicine, its message is for everybody. . . . It has already been described as a modern masterpiece--and so it is."--Jeremy Lawrence, The Independent (UK)


"I found I had been gripping the book so hard that my fingers hurt. . . . It calls to mind one of the great classics of medical literature, Mikhail Bulgakov's A Country Doctor's Notebook. Few modern authors could stand that comparison, but Gawande can."--John Carey, The Sunday Times (UK)