Dr. Craig R. Smith on Presidential Heart Surgery and Other Stories from the Operating Theater
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on Keen On
Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.
Andrew talks to Craig R. Smith M.D., author of Nobility in Small Things, about his life as one of America’s most celebrated heart surgeons.
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As a surgeon at Columbia University and the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Craig R. Smith has been no stranger to pressure—from performing President Bill Clinton’s quadruple bypass, to openly massaging patients’ hearts. But when the COVID pandemic shut down non-emergency operations at New York City hospitals, Dr. Smith was presented with a different purpose. He began writing daily email updates from the front lines of the pandemic battle. The updates—designed to inform and reassure—became a balm to his colleagues, and when theWall Street Journal published them in April 2020, they were immediately recognized as essential dispatches from “the pandemic’s most powerful writer.” Dr. Smith has now written a deeply thoughtful new memoir, NOBILITY IN SMALL THINGS: A Surgeon’s Path (St. Martin’s Press; on-sale October 10, 2023), sharing what goes into the impossible decisions he must make on behalf of his patients. President Bill Clinton has already praised it as “much more than a medical memoir; it’s an elegant work of literature.” Diane Sawyer has called it “a book of staggering reach” from a “fearless explorer of what it is to be human when the choices are hard, the stakes high, and courage is the only choice,” while Senator Cory Booker says “[Smith’s] story, his journey, is a compelling narrative of a servant leader who in times of trial emerged as a humble hero.”