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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

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Gifted Hands by and about Ben Carson, M.D., is the inspiring story of an inner-city kid with poor grades and little motivation, who, at age thirty-three, became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Gifted Hands will transplace you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world, and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician who lives to help others. In 1987, Dr. Carson gained worldwide recognition for his part in the first successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the head -- an extremely complex and delicate operation that was five months of planning and twenty-two hours of actual surgery, involving a surgical plan that Carson helped initiate. Gifted Hands reveals a man with humility, decency, compassion, courage, and sensitivity who serves as a role model for young people (and everyone else) in need of encouragement to attempt the seemingly impossible and to excel in whatever they attempt. Dr. Carson also describes the key role that his highly intelligent though relatively uneducated mother played in his metamorphosis from an unmotivated ghetto youngster into one of the most respected neurosurgeons in the world.

224 pages, Paperback

First published February 10, 1992

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About the author

Ben Carson

39 books845 followers
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr., M.D. is an American neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President George W. Bush in 2008.

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5 stars
9,208 (46%)
4 stars
6,363 (32%)
3 stars
2,861 (14%)
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477 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,170 reviews
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,047 reviews2,051 followers
November 5, 2022

This is the book which taught me the idea that
"No knowledge is ever wasted.”
It immensely helps you become the best version of yourself for whatever job you are doing. Ben Carson's life story will definitely motivate you in the best way possible. This is a must-read book if you are a healthcare professional or want to become one in the future.
1,593 reviews10 followers
March 25, 2008
This is supposed be inspirational, but it seems to show how blessed and special Ben Carson is. I appreciate his message, but I come away not inspired but frustrated. What happens when folks pray and God says no or they don't get the same result Carson did?
And if it's supposed to be inspiriational why only one chapeter on his big thing, Think Big?
21 reviews4 followers
October 20, 2011
Stop what you're doing. Read this right now. I did a gigantic project on this book. My God I loved it. It was simply remarkable.

The whole story of his life is inspiring, and the book causes you to become very emotionaly attached to Ben Carson as a character. I, at least, felt his struggles, victories, and failures quite strongly. If it's being rated by emotional investment, it gets 5 stars. If its being rated for writing style, it gets 5 stars. The voice is powerful and has a sincere tone to it throughout.

Ben Carson, being a pediatric neurosurgeon, is perhaps the best in the world, having discovered several medical techniques that are used even today, and maybe his greatest contribution, he perfected the hemispherectomy [when you take out one of the two lobes of the brain and the patient is still a 100% functioning member of society]. He's saved numerous lives. He's quite inspirational because of his less than noble background.

It has real moral lessons, values, and inspiration to be taken from it, and I would recomend that anybody who has ANY time at all, should read it. It can be a truly life changing book.
Profile Image for Nilanjana Haldar.
Author 1 book104 followers
August 12, 2021
I personally think this is a book every healthcare individual must read! Period! But others will derive a lot from the book too!

When I recollect my childhood and years in medicine, I now recognise in explicit cognition, just how much my parents have sacrificed to get me where it is I am. Reading about this book overwhelmed me with this truth I have always recognised in fragments but never quite as deeply as I am doing now.
This is the story of a ghetto boy hailing from the streets of Detroit, who climbs monumental rungs of obstacles and challenges (so much 'nigger' statements and ridicule included) to finally become a renowned paediatric neurosurgeon in the John Hopkins Medical Institution, Baltimore, Maryland.

I see Sonya as a reminder of my own mother. My mother has always pushed me to take challenges with a pinch of salt and wade through them with a smile like she has always done. Just recently she had been telling me to climb higher and higher in my path, motivating me by stating, "If you are determined, nothing can stop you, no bad criticism, nothing." The lessons I am learning from the book match closely with those my mother teaches me so often. My father too.

The book helped me trust that in moments of ridicule and shame that the world is wont to grant (I faced many at workplaces), you have the power of God that is willing you forth with massive amounts of endurance and peace that is beyond anybody's reach.

Many lessons I learnt from the book, one of them is—— “I am going to get my life situation straightened out," said by the unbending stamina of a woman, Sonya, Carson's mother herself, when her life spirals downwards many times, in between her jobs in people's homes, a divorce, and the consistent pile of motivation she had ready for her sons just so they never had to take any notice whatsoever of her hidden struggle and depression.

Reminds me of my own mother. She is just the same, she won't stop at anything to get what she wants. Come what may, and she will still make her dream come true. She came from very humble beginnings and economy, and never had books of her own to study. So often she copied other people's books to create her own.

I recall that when I had joined the MBBS college in Kolkata which wasn't the one I would have liked to be in (something pretty irrelevant in shaping a person as a good doctor, but unknown to me back then), I felt enormously felled in esteem in the initial months, watching myself circled by students around who had cracked bigger entrance exams many of which I had failed. The similar thing had been experienced by Ben Carson when he got into Yale. And in the midst of the recognition of one's lower intelligence amongst those around (which is an error in perception to begin with), he was very close to giving up when his mother's voice rang in his head, that said,

"Bennie, you can do it! Why, son, you can do anything you want, and you can do it better than anybody else. I believe in you."

When Ben Carson heard the words of his mother, he turned to God and prayed, wondering how he would come up against the questions that awaited his chemistry test the following day. You will be surprised at what happened after that! I will leave you to find it out for yourself.

Anyways, this is very similar to my story. My parents have always told me that if you really want something and work at it, you will see things happen your way. And this truth has repeatedly appeared in my life!

On another note, I must add, I have had experiences during my tough medical years, when disease paled me down, or people tried crushing me and boycotting me or so, but a strange presence of a inner power had come to clasp me in the midst of my surrender to worldly pressure and at the point where I had thought I would crash, everything fell exactly where they needed to be---AND ACTUALLY MORE!

I genuinely felt I was reading about my life in many places.
But the overarching lesson I found was this--> Just because you hailed from poverty and humble beginnings, it has absolutely no bearing on what you can do with your life, and nobody's opinion stands a chance to your faith in a higher power and diligent work!

However, a little sidenote I would like to add- Ever since I discovered depression flooding my life, and I began unearthing the serious supremacy my career+goals+dreams had become for me, I have set myself on a whole new route of understanding life, not as texts and derivatives of people's statements, but as my self-inquiry (grossly disillusioned then as it is now) wanted to yield, which is---> Why attach joy to a goal when bliss is our natural state of being?! This I discovered in 2018 deep in meditation (although I falter by attaching too much importance to my egoic ways often)....
Career, relationships etc are only accessories to life. Life itself is enough for joy! Joy is seated right here, INSIDE!

I realised slowly and gradually that this "goal-oriented" way of being is equivalent to not learning how to immerse into the exuberance of the "NOW." The more I evolve through breaking past whatever I hear, and by allowing my self-inquiry on life shine, the more I realise, a goal is just a thought and basing your whole life over a such a thought is absolutely important for a world, yes! (Look at Ben Carson. Look at all the wonderful surgeries he is doing to separate Siamese twins) but isn't to be considered in the shadow of forgetting to smile in the "NOW".

All in all basing all of one's life's joy on a singular thought makes no sense, but basing all your life's ACTIVITIES around that thought----that's perfectly fine! But just don't keep the joy on hold! :) That's my additional point here! This I understood because me, myself and I, lost in the swirl of ambitions and goals I had picked early in my life, hadn't understood back then why I had been grieving all the time......to finally discover after enormous self-study and digging holes into my psyche, that I was keeping my joy on hold just because my goals were taking time to manifest! How ridiculous !

Learning to live joyfully no matter what, AND, thereafter, attempting your "goals" so they can acquire fruition is the way! Not merely the latter!
"The clock is ticking, time to smile" :) Goals might not come true, but smile shouldn't be denied a chance just because life isn't happening your way!

Joy first! And it is already inside! There are people I know who have extreme little and have failed thousands of times but if you see them you will not want to leave them---they are madly in love with the "now" and are always, all the time cracking jokes and cherishing every moment, loving others, gleefully wandering around, never wanting to be "special."

Wait, I have to state that Ben Carson never wanted to be special either, at least as wisdom began seeping within him deeper. Infact, he wanted to know how he could become someone who would offer his best neurosurgery services to the world. So, I am just adding a few personal thoughts which I deeply feel people on the path of goals-and-dreams must incorporate. So, Ben Carson's story continues to inspire me regardless of my thoughts.

What I really loved in addition to all the lessons I read out of this book is the honesty in the language---it's so simple and authentic. He even added a chapter about how he controls his temper. I have seen so so so many doctors around me who have absolutely no clue about how to control their temper. And they are doing major surgeries and running clinics, yelling at patients. I don't exactly blame them for the saddest of all things is that schools don't bother teaching about mastering EQ. Anyways, that was such an admirable thing in the book of Ben Carson....I really admire him!

I want to write some more of the lessons I read in this novel-->

1) Sonya' words---> " Bennie, what's inside counts the most. Anybody can dress up on the outside and be dead inside."

Hah! This message is precisely what doctors everywhere need to learn. I see the "doctor-entitlement" nonsense becoming a real problem in many parts of India and I recall being clutched by it too once, until one day, I cried so hard for being that way, and have never been that way since. A friend of mine named Avinash from Himachal once told me---" Pehle acche insaan bano, phir bade doctor." (translation--> first become a good human inside (kind and loving), then go and become a skilled doctor) as a message he wished many of our seniors could learn since they verbally bashed many patients and juniors PGTs in our hospital. I was so pleased to read these lines in the book. Every time I see someone stating something in the lines or depicting it in their behaviour, despite being so accomplished in real life, that person becomes someone I look up to and feel grateful to have crossed paths with. So, reading about Sonya's belief in this truth, made me admire her so deeply.

2) This one is not a lesson but there is a hidden lesson in these beautiful lines-->

" said by Ben Carson--> "Despite the smallness of the house, it was home. Today I see it more realistically---more like a matchbox. But to the three of us then, the house seemed like a mansion a really fabulous place."

3) Said By Ben about his mother, "Because she wanted to do the best she could for Curtis and me, she skimped on herself. Her clothes were clean nd respectable, but they weren't stylish. Ofcourse, being a kid I never noticed and she never complained.

4) Ben's mother tells him, "Only stupid people laugh at what you wear, Bennie," she'd say. Or, "it's not what you're wearing that makes the difference."

5) This lesson is a big one, and if you check out my review for --> Gifts from Eykis
by Wayne W. Dyer<---- you'll find that the author of that book mentions something similar. So the lesson is, in the lines of Sonya, Ben Carson's mother--->

"You are the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same-----
If you travel downward,
You have yourself to blame"

Overall, this is an amazing book and I am very grateful to Ben Carson and his mother for the same!
It will stay with me I am sure. Some books stay with you, you know! :)

I gave my mother a huge hug in the midst of this book reading and I am going to give her one more now! Bye :)
Profile Image for Camille.
121 reviews166 followers
December 26, 2019
Ben Carson is a gifted surgeon...and I wish he just stayed in his lane instead of taking on politics but that's a different discussion for a different time...

Gifted Hands is inspiring as he gives all the credit to God for what he has accomplished.

I feel the story borders on fantasy, and doesn't show him as a hard worker. It would have been more refreshing if things didn't seem to just "come" to him.
35 reviews5 followers
December 14, 2021
***I’m changing my rating to 5-stars. Why? Because after reading this book over twenty years ago, I still think about it often, and only 5-star books affect you the way this book affected me. I think about how hard Ben and his brother worked to beat incredible odds, and I think about their mother, Sonya Carson, and what a blessing she was to her boys and what an inspiration she is to mankind everywhere. Ben Carson’s story is a beautiful testimony of hard work, perseverance, and of what mankind is capable of. God bless them all.***

Below is the review from my much younger, much less life-experienced self. Take it with a grain of salt. :-)

I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars, maybe even 4, but I'm not quite sure.

I love the story, particularly the beginning where he talks about his mother. (She's the reason I read the book -- I had heard a little teaser of the story at a presentation by Jim Trelease and wanted to hear more about her.) She is an incredible person and did what every mother should do -- give her kids a chance to be better and do more than she did.

Ben Carson and his brother were raised in inner-city Detroit, with their odds of becoming successful almost non-existent, yet Ben eventually became the head of the pediatric neurosurgery unit at Johns Hopkins, largely due to his mother's influence.

Ben writes the book himself, so everything is in the first person. Because of that, when he speaks of his accomplishments he almost sounds arrogant. There were a few times that bothered me a little, but he does give credit to God for everything, which shows he really is humble. I think the only reason he may sound a bit arrogant is because he's writing in the first person, speaking of all his successes. But really, when you've done incredible things and are telling your own story, that's how it's going to sound. (One of those incredible things was separating conjoined twins that no other team would even attempt to separate and attempt to keep both alive -- it was an incredible surgery, one he profiles in the book.)

Back to his mother: At age 13 she married a man who was 28, largely to escape her family life (there were over 20 kids in her family). After having 2 kids they divorced (her husband had a completely separate life they knew nothing about for some time). She couldn't read well while raising her boys (she learned later) but insisted they read 2 books a week and write her book reports on them. Something not covered in the book, but I learned during the presentation: she would mark up their reports with a red pen and insist they make them better, all the while having no idea what she was circling and marking up.

All in all, don't read the book for it's writing -- it's not beautifully written. Read the book if you want to hear a motivating story about hard work or about how mothers can influence their children.
Profile Image for Uncle Tootie.
35 reviews1 follower
May 3, 2016
If his hands are so gifted, how did he write such an awful book? In "Gifted Hands", Dr. Ben's arrogance, holiness, and fairy tales ceaselessly damage what should be an inspiring story. Further, God makes multiple cameos in Ben's life to provide money ($10 bills found on the ground) test answers (don't waste your time studying kids, just pray), and of course, gifted hands (blessed hand-eye coordination, Ben would have been an unbeatable ping-pong player). Unfortunately, God forgets to give Dr. Carson humility, gratitude, and the ability to realistically recall information. Regardless of how the good doctor fares in his future political aspirations, he'll always be a winner in his eyes.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,439 followers
March 12, 2012
This was a beautiful and inspirational book! Not only did a poor black man living in the ghetto of Detroit get an amazing education, he also became one of the most famous neurosurgeons in America.

What impressed me so much was his mother's determination; she was only 13 years old when she got married and, to make things worse, she became a single parent when her husband left her.Despite all this,she knew how important education and faith would be for her sons; she encouraged them to read books and pray. Amazing how a lady who only had 3rd Grade education managed to raise two great scientists!

I enjoyed reading about the medical cases that he worked on that made him so well-known. Despite all his achievements, Dr Carson seems to be a very humble man and credits God for getting him where he is today. Also, in spite of all the racism he encountered, he made it clear that he wants to heal people of all races and all the adversity he faced on account of his race just made him grow stronger, and work harder.

Profile Image for Amy.
2,556 reviews395 followers
December 24, 2021
3.5 stars

I made the mistake of reading this alongside Justice Clarence Thomas's My Grandfather's Son. While the two make an interesting contrast, Thomas writes for a living; Carson does not. Gifted Hands loses in a side-by-side comparison. I eventually set it aside so I could give it the appropriate appreciation.

And it is a book worth appreciating. Carson does have an inspiring life. He recounts his childhood and med school experience followed by some of the defining cases of his career as a surgeon. While he does not make for the most inspiring protagonist (you know he struggled and yet he manages to make everything sound easy), the stories still reel you in.

Worth a read for sure, but more for the content than the literary style.
Profile Image for Cindi.
939 reviews
January 23, 2018
Recommended by Honey for a Teen's Heart, this promises to be an excellent story.

Wonderful, wonderful! This book is all about education and the importance of it. But, instead of being preachy, it's a great story. Even my 7 (almost 8) year old doesn't want to miss a bit of it. Some of the things we have tried to teach our kids are reiterated in this book. Yippee! Also, there is the wonderful aspect of faith in God and miracles throughout the pages of this book.

Book on tape is read by the author!

2015 NOTE: If I could pull the threads of this book out of my kids' minds, I would do it. I'm sure there are some great moments in the book, but looking at who this man is and what he represents now, sickens me. There are certainly better role models out there.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
September 22, 2015
Carson tells about his youth growing up in a poor black neighborhood in Detroit. Apparently when he was eight years old he decided he wanted to become a physician. He speaks highly of his mother keeping him on track toward his goal. He tells of going to Yale and feeling he did not belong there amongst the wealthy students. He went on to the University of Michigan for his medical school. He is one of eleven African Americans to become a board certified neurosurgeon. He became head of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins University hospital. In 1987 he became famous for successfully separating conjoined twins. The Binder Twins had been joined at the back of the head.

Carson writes openly about his faith and the Seventh Day Adventist church he belongs to. Carson has won many awards including the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to him by President George W. Bush. He has written six books and many professional articles for medical journals, and since 2013 writes a column for the Washington Times. In 2009 there was a made for television movie about Ben Carson’s life shown on the TNT channel. The book should inspire failing students that they can improve their grades if they try. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book was co-written with Cecil Murphy and Dion Graham narrated the book.
Profile Image for Negin.
596 reviews151 followers
August 26, 2018
I’m so happy that I read this. Carson’s story is wonderful and uplifting. He experienced so many struggles and yet became a better person and his faith in God has been strengthened. I love how grounded he remains despite all of his incredible contributions to the field of neurosurgery. He attributes most of his success to God, his mother, and his medical team. His perseverance and humility are truly admirable. To me, this book should be required reading for all high school students, as well as all those who like to focus so much on blaming one’s circumstances and personal situation.

Some of my favorite quotes:
“I have strong feelings on the subject of American youth and here’s one of them. I’m really bothered at the emphasis given by the media on sports in the schools. Far too many youngsters spend all their energies and time on the basketball courts, wanting to be a Michael Jordan. Or they throw their energies toward being a Reggie Jackson on the baseball diamond or an O.J. Simpson on the football field. They want to make a million dollars a year, not realizing how few who try make those kinds of salaries. These kids end up throwing their lives away.
When the media doesn’t emphasize sports, it’s music. I often hear of groups – and many of them good – who pour out their hearts in a highly competitive career, not realizing that only one group in 10,000 is going to make it big. Rather than putting all their time and energy into sports or music, these kids – these bright, talented young people – should be spending their time with books and self-improvement, ensuring they’ll have a career when they’re adults.
I fault the media for perpetuating these grandiose dreams.”

“I came to realize that if people could make me angry they could control me. Why should I give someone else such power over my life?”

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”

Ben Carson with his wife, mother, and children

Profile Image for Jonna Higgins-Freese.
705 reviews44 followers
February 19, 2015
I have read dozens of memoirs, but seldom any by "celebrities"/superstars. Now I know why. The first part of the book, in which Carson recounts his early childhood and the difficulties he overcame at that time, as well as his gratitude to his mother, was readable. He has a particular point of view -- one that focuses on personal responsibility instead of systemic/structural readings of social problems (i.e., academic performance of African Americans). Fair enough. Many of the factors he narrates that were important to his own success -- caring adults who nurtured and pushed him to learn and excel; a "growth mindset" that allowed him to learn that he could learn, grow, and change; a goal toward which he was working -- fit with the broader literature/research about how students/people learn and grow best.

The later sections, in which he describes his work as a surgeon, was awful -- poorly edited to the point of being nearly unreadable, and self-congratulatory to the point of nausea. He often says that what he does is the work of a team, but that doesn't come through in the narrative. No matter how many times you *say* something, if you don't *show* it, the reader won't believe it.

Much of the last half of the book appears to have been a rough first draft tossed off by a junior high-age writer, rather than a polished narrative for publication. The last line of the narrative proper, "My wife, my sons -- they are the most important part of my life" -- have almost nothing to do with the story he's told up to that point, or the choices he's made. He does mention that he goes home each night in time to put his sons to bed. Clearly, being a surgeon is the kind of job that routinely requires 100 hour work weeks. Fair enough. But to then say his family is the most important thing -- it simply didn't fit together. Or at least, one can see that it's certainly possible that one's family can be "the most important thing" even if one doesn't get to spend much time with them (I certainly experience that in the requirements of my own work life), but nothing he'd written to that point supported that conclusion.

In addition, I probably brought less of an "oh wow, he's so cool" attitude to his work on separating conjoined twins than his ideal reader was expected to, due to having read Alice Dreger's _One of Us_. In it, Dreger argues quite compellingly, based on narrative evidence from conjoined twins themselves, that separating conjoined twins tells us more about mainstream culture's drive to "normalize" than the actual needs and wants of conjoined twins. Carson's silence on this subject, along with the ease with which he breezes past other thorny issues of medical ethics in the books, was troubling, and seemed indicative of a sort of moral/emotional autism.

Finally, I read this book because Carson is to be the featured speaker at the National Association for Developmental Education conference later this month. I am puzzled by his selection for that venue. Carson did not use developmental education -- he went to college prepared for credit bearing work. He does discuss the difficulties he faced at Yale as a small fish in a big pond, a new experience for him, but his experience would seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the work/needs of the main population who arrive in developmental education -- those who are academically not college ready.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,215 reviews551 followers
July 12, 2020
Ben Carson tells his life, his past, as he remembers it. And tells it in a style and simplicity to mentor faith coupled with hard work. He tells the earliest years to a 4 star level and also the separation operations on the babies to nearly a 5. But much of the middle is more mindset and locations rather than the essence it must have taken to continue in his physician's particular slot. But that's Ben too- he does some things extremely well and others are just more holistically generic, IMHO.

What comes to the fore, beyond his Mother's training and endurance learned was his faith. It's immense. Faith with the capital F. That Faith. And he believes in prayer for specific which works. Reading some of the other reviews, it's an IMMENSE gift that many are too ignorant to even begin to understand. But it bonds Ben Carson to excellence minute by minute.

I especially loved the story of his getting the "wrong" make up exam and the trick played by the prof. It sounds exactly like the one in a million that Ben Carson truly is. So few of us can really say we "try" to the extend of that story. So many use baggage of every ilk to throw in the towel before the first starting whistle.

This would be a good book for middle school assignment, IMHO. Easy, core "eyes" read.
Profile Image for Veronica Trotter.
1 review5 followers
April 28, 2013
Loved the book. It's crazy that I've known of Dr. Carson for years. I went to see him speak at TSU in Nashville some years ago while I was in dental school at Meharry Medical College. I purchased the book then... That was early 2000's. I just decided to read it in its entirety. I was pleasantly surprised that a lot if his story paralleled mine. Not so much the educational part of tough up bringing, but his thought processes. I underlined and highlighted so much because I was surprised to find - in print - what I had put into practice. In my older age- I've accepted my passion for children and issues with education. I've been doing more motivational speaking and actually included similar motivational words as Dr. Carson used without reading this book. Now that I have read it, I have more material I can use! Loved this book! Will beading it to the reading list for this summer reading challenge I hope to offer to the kids at my church this summer.
Profile Image for Matt.
815 reviews
March 29, 2018
I really like to read about highly successful people. Ben Carson is one of them. This takes you from his living in Detroit and being raised b a single mom who insisted he achieve success... through his education and eventually to his historic surgery of separating Siamese Twins joined at the head.

He’s a devotedly religious man who credits God with giving him his talent and skills as a brain surgeon. He’s an example for the youth of the world to emulate.

He’s gotten a lot of crap in the news the last few years- but none of it should take away from the fact that he’s an accomplished neurosurgeon and a hero to his patients and the world. I find it extremely hideous that some ridicule and demean him because they do not agree with his conservative political views.
Profile Image for Camie.
893 reviews186 followers
March 11, 2015
From inner city (Detroit) Ben Carson, a poor black kid , raised by a very determined single mother , to whom he dedicates the book , becomes a renowned neurosurgeon changing children's lives at John Hopkins Medical Center. An inspiring true story of determination, persistence , and faith. This 2011 reprint, with a forward by his mother, who was one of 24 siblings and married at age 13 (Can that be right ? wow ) is out in trade paperback and is a very quick read. Take two hours and restore your faith in humanity. The movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. is also very good. 4 stars
Profile Image for Kemunto  ✧˚ .
134 reviews22 followers
January 31, 2023
1.dnf 56%. 2.A reread. I wanted to read a book my primary school teachers loved, and Gifted Hands was insanely popular with all the kids and the teachers back then. I remember liking it back when I read it in 2012, it was one of the few books we were allowed to read in primary school. I know this book has inspired many people, and I appreciate that. I just didn't enjoy this as much as I wanted to. I know of his transphobia and does he even mention the conjoined twins never turned out okay?

Our headteacher really loved Ben Carson's story and she was always good to me, always encouraging me. I'm dnfing it this time because I want to hold onto those beautiful memories instead. So much has changed... this is the thing about growing up.

Who is Ben Carson, outside his religion, his work, his studies? You couldn't tell if you read this, and maybe that's okay. It's a book mainly about his studies, and it can serve to motivate! There's memories here. It's an extra star for that!

⭐️⭐️⭐️(2.5 stars)
Profile Image for Ronna.
515 reviews53 followers
February 6, 2014
This is the true story of a remarkable man, and what led to his success. Dr. Carson is the head pediatric neurosurgeon at John Hopkins. He began his life as a child in Detroit, Michigan. His Mom, who Dr Carson attributed much of his success to, was one of 20 plus siblings. She married at 13, and when Ben and his brother were young boys, they found out that his dad was a bigamist. When he left Ben's family, he was never seen by them again. Ben's Mom's third grade education assured her the necessity of working three jobs to support her family. It was this attitude that started Ben and his brother on their road to success. She fostered the attitude---You are responsible for your life success--if you work hard you will succeed---if you are not succeeding, it's YOUR responsibility to make the changes to succeed!! ---God is your ever present help in life!!

Dr Carson tells of his early years of poor grades; his Mom's rules to insure that her boys would do their best in school; his raise to top student in his classes; his issues with a bad temper; his continuous faith and prayers to Jesus Christ; his raise in the medical field; his wonderful married life; and the medical procedures that led to saving lives of children with medical brain issues. The focus of people being responsible for their own success ---with NO excuses for failure---makes this a must read for EVERYONE. There is a YA version for the very young also!! The writing was very interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book!!
271 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2018
I saw this man in clips from the National Prayer Breakfast and was so impressed by him. Learning more about him, I found out that he was a world renowned neurosurgeon out of Johns Hopkins. One of my sons needed brain surgery as an infant so I probably know more information about the brain than the typical stay at home mother, I have even met doctors that I know more than (sad). My second reason for finding him interesting is that my son-in-law is in residency for neurosurgery and everyone tell me neurosurgeons are mean, so I wanted to find out what a neurosurgeon's life is really like. In fact it was my son-in-law who lent me the book. I really enjoyed this book a lot. Here was a man raised in poverty, by a single mom, who rose to be one of the best scientific brains in the world. A man who had to work hard to overcome challenges but never once blamed anyone but himself if he didn't. I love how he credits his mom for helping him be better. Even with all his famous surgeries he thanks God for being there and helping him out. He realizes he is a good surgeon, but only because of the talents the Lord gave him. I wish this was required reading in high schools. I think every child regardless of their place in the world could benefit from this.
Profile Image for Tim Chavel.
241 reviews58 followers
July 14, 2013
I hope that Ben Carson will run for President. This is the type of person we need to lead America back to our foundation. In his book "Gifted Hands" he shares his life story and what a story it is. Raised by a single Mom, he grows up without much of material things. He worked very hard to become a world renowned neurosurgeon. This book was also produced as a movie. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:

“You’ve The Captain of Your Ship”
If things go bad for you-
And make you a bit ashamed,
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame …
Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came.
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame …

Whatever happens to us,
Here are the words to say,
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do-
Make an examination,
You’ll find the fault’s in you …

You’re the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same-
If you traveled downward,
You have yourself to blame. ~Mayme White Miller

Remember this as you go through life. The person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you! You make the choices; you decide whether you’re going to give up or ante up when the going gets tough. Ultimately, it’s you who decides whether you will be a success or not, by doing what is legally necessary to get you where you want to go, You are the captain of your own ship. If you don’t succeed, you only have yourself to blame. ~Sonya Carson

When she (Sonya Carson) believed in something she held on and wouldn’t quit. I didn’t always like hearing her say, “You weren’t born to be a failure, Bennie (Ben Carson-Sonya’s son). You can do it!” Or one of her favorites: “You just ask the Lord, and He’ll help you.” ~Ben Carson

What’s inside counts the most. Anybody can dress up on the outside and be dead inside. ~Sonya Carson

That job [the one Ben Carson had between high school and college at the Ford Motor Company; his high school counselor helped him get the job] taught me an important lesson about employment in the world beyond high school. Influence could get me inside the door, but my productivity and the quality of my work were the real tests. Just knowing a lot of information, while helpful, wasn’t enough either. The principle goes like this: It’s not what you know but the kind of job you do that makes the difference. ~Ben Carson

The kind of job doesn’t matter. The length of time on the job doesn’t matter, for it’s true even with a summer job. If you work hard and do your best, you’ll be recognized and move onward. ~Ben Carson

There isn’t anybody in the world who isn’t worth something. ~Ben Carson

As I think of Black youth, I also want to say I believe that many of our pressing racial problems will be taken care of when we who are among the minorities will stand on our own feet and refuse to look to anybody else to save us from our situations. The culture in which we live stresses looking out for number one. Without adopting such a self-centered value system, we can demand the best of ourselves while we are extending our hands to help others. ~Ben Carson

Learn to recognize and accept your God-given talents (and we all have them). Develop those talents and use them in the career you choose. Remembering T for talent puts you far ahead of the game if you take advantage of what God gives you. ~Ben Carson

T also = TIME
Learn the importance of time. When you are always on time, people can depend on you. You prove your trustworthiness. Learn not to waste time, because time is money and time is effort. Time usage is also a talent. God gives some people the ability to manage time. The rest of us have to learn how And we can. ~Ben Carson

Don’t go around with a long face, expecting something bad to happen. Anticipate good things; watch for them. ~Ben Carson

H also = HONESTY
When you do anything dishonest, you must do something else dishonest to cover up, and your life becomes hopelessly complex. The same with telling lies. If you’re honest, you don’t have to remember what you said the last time. Speaking the truth each time makes life amazingly simple. ~Ben Carson

Listen and learn from people who have already been where you want to go. Benefit from their mistakes instead of repeating them. Read good books like the Bible because they open up new worlds of understanding. ~Ben Carson

Be nice to people – all people. If you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you. It takes much less energy to be nice than it does to be mean. Being kind, friendly, and helpful takes less energy and relieves much of the pressure. ~Ben Carson

Knowledge is the key to independent living, the key to all your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. If you are knowledgeable, particularly more knowledgeable than anybody else in a field, you become invaluable and write your own ticket. ~Ben Carson

I emphasize that active learning from reading is better than passive learning such as listening to lectures or watching television. When you read, your mind must work by taking in letters and connecting them to form words. Words make themselves into thoughts and concepts. Developing good reading habits is something like being a champion weightlifter. The champion didn’t go into the gym one day and start lifting 500 pounds. He toned his muscles, beginning with lighter weights, always building up, and preparing for more. It’s the same thing with intellectual feats. We develop our minds by reading, by thinking, by figuring out things for ourselves. ~Ben Carson

Superficial learners cram for exams but know nothing two weeks later. In-depth learners find that the acquired knowledge becomes a part of them. They understand more about themselves and their world. They keep building on prior understanding by piling on new information. ~Ben Carson

Never get too big for God. Never drop God out of your life. ~Ben Carson

Mother Teresa’s profound words are surely true of me and true of you: “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” My prayer is that He will use you to write His next love letter. ~Richard Stearns

The meaning, purpose, and significance of our lives are found only by aligning our lives with God’s purposes, in lives committed to following Jesus Christ. ~Richard Stearns
Profile Image for Jr Bacdayan.
211 reviews1,657 followers
March 2, 2013
My dad gave me this book and made me read it. It's basically the autobiography of Dr. Ben Carson, a world renowned neurosurgeon that made headlines worldwide for his part in the first successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the head. The first half of the book is about his life. From his childhood through med-school, through his marriage and his children. His story is very interesting. He comes from a broken family, his mother raised him and his brother by herself in down-town Detroit. Her mother works as a maid and the family barely gets by. The young Ben struggles at school and gets low grades, then her mother forces them to drop watching TV and playing outside. She forces them to borrow and read books from the library. At first he hates this but then learns to love books. Eventually, his grades go up until he eventually graduates with high honors and gets into Yale, then later on Johns Hopkins. Through it all he encounters difficulties like his rage, fights, peer-pressure, among other things. But he gets through them all. The other half of the book is basically about the preparation and operation of the Siamese twins and some of his other patients. Gifted Hands is the riveting story of one man’s secret for success, tested against daunting odds and driven by an incredible mindset that dares to take risks. This inspiring autobiography takes you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world — and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician who lives to help others.
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 1 book6 followers
December 16, 2010
I read this for a biography paper I did in elementary school, and I'm embarrassed to say that it usually takes a school assignment in order for me to read nonfiction (something I'll have to change, as I'm now obviously out of school). I really should re-read this, because I don't remember much about it at all, except for what the Cuba Gooding Jr. TV movie stirred up for me, and the fact that Dr. Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist, along with, of course, the basics of the brilliant procedure Carson is known for.

What really impresses me about this book now that I look back at it, though, is that while it was written by a man with vast medical knowledge, and does contain its share of jargon, the writing is clear enough that I understood so much of the medical stuff even then. A professor of mine once mentioned an author (I want to say D.H. Lawrence, but that could just be because he was one of the prof's faves) who would read everything he wrote to his neighbor, a little old woman who wasn't particularly educated, and if she didn't understand what his writing was talking about, he'd go back and write it over again. Ben Carson made me understand what was going on in a brain surgery when I was ten. That's good writing.
24 reviews3 followers
September 1, 2008
EXCELLENT BOOK. A surgeon's long journey from knife-wielding, street fighter in Detroit to master of the scalpel--a leader in pediatric neurosugery. I admired the way he gave God credit for his successes and the influence of his mother, who only went as far as 3rd grade herself.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,706 reviews129 followers
June 7, 2022
A brilliant book about a brilliant individual. The book follows the story of Dr. Ben Carson. It goes from time when he struggled in the school to becoming the most decorated surgeon of his time.

The stories are honest tender and sincere. This is truly an excellent book.
Profile Image for Angie.
116 reviews
January 24, 2014
A wonderful book! I really enjoyed reading about Ben Carson and his story. The whole premise of this book can be shared in Ben's statement that
"It's my belief that God gives us all gifts, special abilities that we have the privilege of developing to help us serve Him and humanity."
Ben Carson shares his life story, starting from when he was eight years old and the events and people that played a major role in forming who he was and his beliefs. One of his biggest influences was from his mother, who always encouraged him to be the best he could be, that it didn't matter what color he was or any body else---it's who you are on the inside that matters. His mother had only received a third grade education, however, she was a hard worker and encouraged Ben and his older brother to do well in school, having them read two books every week and were only allowed to watch three television shows a week.

I particularly liked Ben's belief in God and how he recognized His hand throughout his life. Ben never took credit for his accomplishments, but returned the credit to God directing his hands during surgery or for influencing the paths he took in his life. He also acknowledged the talent with whom he worked with and knew that nothing could happen without teamwork. He believed,
"God has an overall plan for people's lives and the details get worked out along the way, even though we usually have no idea what's going on."
I also love his "THINK BIG" principles and his desire to share his message with people, especially youth (i.e., Talent, Time, Hope, Honesty, Insight, Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth Learning, and God). He says, "To THINK BIG and use our talents doesn't mean we won't have difficulties along the way. We will---we all do. How we view those problems determines how we end up. If we choose to see the obstacles in our path as barriers, we stop trying ... however, if we choose to see the obstacles as hurdles, we can leap over them. Successful people don't have fewer problems. They have determined that nothing will stop them from going forward. Whatever direction we choose, if we can realize that every hurdle we jump strengthens and prepares us for the next one, we're already on the way to success."

This book was highly motivating for me to better trust God and the talents He's given me, to follow my dreams and passions, and to not give up. This book is full of hope and encourages all to be the best we can be, while helping others along the way.
Profile Image for Lois.
321 reviews2 followers
May 13, 2013
Written in 1990, Gifted Hands is the autobiography of Ben Carson, who became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at the ripe old age of 33. Growing up in Detroit, the son of a single black woman with a third grade education, it would be expected that Carson would dissolve into inner city oblivion. Instead, because of his mother's vision of potential, Ben and his brother both rose to prominence in their respective fields.

I found his mother's story to be inspiring. A simple demand that her sons limit television viewing and read books instead (when she couldn't read herself) Carson believes was instrumental in their success in school. She never made excuses, cast blame, and instead took responsibility for her children.

Carson tells it all, from his bad attitudes and laziness, to people who helped him along the way. Approximately half way through the book (after he started working at Johns Hopkins) he explains many of the cases he took on as a pediatric neurosurgeon. He is most famous for separating conjoined twins, which at that point had never been successfully done. He credits his team members in the 22-hour operation, and explained the planning of the operation 5 months ahead of time. I found all that fascinating.

Finally, he encourages young people to think big, an acronym which he explains in greater depth. He genuinely has a heart for young people, and I think this book should be required reading for every teenager. He concludes with this admonition: "To think big and to use our talents doesn't mean we won't have difficulties along the way. We will--we all do. How we view those problems determines how we end up. If we choose to see the obstacles in our path as barriers, we stop trying.....However, if we choose to see the obstacles as hurdles, we can leap over them. Successful people don't have fewer problems. They have determined that nothing will stop them from going forward. Whatever direction we choose, if we can realize that every hurdle we jump strengthens and prepares us for the next one, we're already on the way to success."
Profile Image for John of Canada.
909 reviews52 followers
August 16, 2018
I first became aware of Ben Carson when he was being interviewed and said about politics:"it isn't brain surgery...brain surgery is harder".Dr. Carson has written one of the best motivational books I've come across.He describes his craft/art well,he is always kind,honest and admirably grateful.He is not afraid to honour his belief in God.I am sort of glad he didn't become President.A man of his class and character shouldn't have to deal with a vicious prevaricating media.
This is the second biography I've read about Black neurosurgeons,Dr.Keith Black's was the first.I have learned enough about their work that my offer of free brain surgery still stands!Read both of these books.I would also read anything by Ben's mother.What a remarkably superior human being.
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