From Scalpel to Spade A Surgeon's Road to Ithaka


From Scalpel to Spade A Surgeon's Road to Ithaka

  • ISBN 13:


  • ISBN 10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 12/27/2022
  • Publisher: Aurum

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This delightful memoir is the story of a life well lived—a Hong Kong doctor who worked as a surgeon for over fifty years and who later turned his hand to his other great passion, gardening.

At times amusing, at times heartbreaking, and at other times educational and instructive, Arthur van Langenburg describes real-life cases and the medical causes of illnesses, including many incredible stories of life-saving operations that will keep you riveted to your seat.

Interspersing these chapters are tales from his fascinating personal life, and reflections on his journey to becoming an expert gardener. Throughout the book is woven the metaphor of the author’s journey to Ithaka, as described in a moving poem of the same name that charts a path for how to live a life ‘full of adventure, full of discovery’.

Beautifully written in a lively, engaging style, this book is sure to win the hearts of many, as van Langenberg's sparkling personality and fascinating insight shines through on every page.

Arthur van Langenberg has lived in Hong Kong all his life except for four years in Macau during World War II and two years in Britain undergoing medical training. He has practised surgery for some fifty years, first at the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, and then in private practice. His lifelong interest in reading and gardening has helped him morph from surgeon to gardener and writer, finding fulfilment and a simpler way of life over the years.

"Arthur van Langenberg is well known among the gardeners in Hong Kong. However, they may not know how respected a surgeon he is, in particular his caring approach to patients. This book will give them a glimpse of the medical aspect of this seasoned gardener . . . The real-life stories that he has recorded are so captivating. I am sure that given Arthur’s writing skill, he could turn each story into a single volume." Chow Shew Ping, Professor Emeritus, University of Hong Kong

"The cases at the scalpel’s edge are riveting. Less dramatic but no less engaging are the episodes on what life was like when learning to master the scalpel and developing the clinical sense of when to wield it or not … Senior colleagues will surely recognise the characters in the book, with a smile." Dr Rose Mak, Chairperson, Management Committee, Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Society


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