Friday, February 26, 2016

‘A Doctor in the House: My Life with Ben Carson’ (Book Review)

There are books that make for some really tiresome reads, and Candy Carson’s A Doctor in the House: My Life with Ben Carson (Sentinel, 2016) needs to be added to the list. The author, wife of famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson, can’t mask her unspoken intent of garnering support for her husband’s shot at becoming the next President of the United States. But rather than providing an insider’s perspective of the man’s life, with all its ups and downs, Carson appears to subscribe to the belief that, during a job interview, it’s best to recast one’s weaknesses – and even mundaneness – as strengths.

From the very first page to the last, the doctor is genius and a miracle worker. And when there’s anything that might be construed as otherwise, Carson is quick to put a positive spin on it. The doctor is a calm and cool “hero” when he steps aside to let a robber hold up a fast-food joint. He “comes through” for her when he catches the baby and placenta during an emergency homebirth and then sends her off to find something with which to clamp the umbilical cord. I could go on, but I’ve got a headache.

The point is that it’s rather boring to read two hundred pages of a doting wife’s…doting. Yes, the doctor has been a vanguard in neuroscience, and that’s amazing. But I think most readers are interested in reading about a real person, not a constructed flawless superhuman. My only recommendation is to leave Candy Carson’s book to its proper place. Her grandchildren can cherish it as a hodgepodge collection of stories about their grandparents’ lives, accompanied by written endorsements from their colleagues and children. Future (real) biographers can use it as a source of information probably not available elsewhere. To everyone else I recommend leaving it on the self.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway winner on There was no obligation to write a review.