Book Review: Gifted Hands - The Ben Carson Story
Dr. Ben Carson became a world renowned neurosurgeon, growing up in a broken home and after failing in 5th grade. This review discusses his book "Gifted Hands" and highlights how God and a determined mother brought him up from being an utter failure success, both in his profession and in ministry
We have a wonderful God who gives each of gifts to help us in our life’s struggles. Some of these gifts are spiritual, some are talents or gifts used to help fellow man. In either case, America has long been the place where these gifts can be realized and utilized. One of the most intriguing stories concerning this is that of Dr. Ben Carson. Born in a ghetto, left by his father, failing in school, taunted by his classmates to join up with them in their downward spiral, and growing up as a African American child in an era of civil unrest, Dr. Carson became the most celebrated neurosurgeon in the world.
How did this happen? First a determined mother who, although she was only minimally educated and barely able to read, would not accept anything but higher education for her children. When the school suggested Dr. Carson’s older brother enter a trade centered curriculum because he would not make it in college, she told the principal “no my son is going to college”. She let everyone know her expectation. When Ben entered fifth grade, suffering from the loss of and rejection by his father, he was failing and convinced he was a failure. His mother took action and turned off the TV and said “you boys are going to the library and check out books. You are going to read two books each week. At the end of the week you will give me a written report on what you have read.”
Ben noted that she was barely literate and probably could not understand all they read, and her friends chided her for being so strict, but she persevered. Later, Ben noted that he was in school and they were going through a study in geology where they named rocks. He was the only one who knew every rock from the books he had read. He noted at that point he realized he wasn’t ignorant, and could learn. This gave him a real love of learning that would go with him throughout his life. Dr. Carson documents his encounters with racism, and it was real and threatening at times, and embarrassing at others. But over time he came to realize there were good and bad people in all races.
This was a significant milestone in his life as he later found himself protecting a group of white students during civil unrest that followed after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Most important, his autobiography, Gifted Hands, tells of his relationship with God. Throughout the book he shows where God guided him, protected him, and responded to his needs. He tells of events where he became convinced of his professional calling and how he continued to rely on God throughout his life.
Through a series of events, lots of hard work, and a total reliance on God, Dr. Ben Carson lead a medical team of 70 to conduct the first successful separation of Siamese twins, joined at the brain. His road to success was a rocky road, with little hope of success. But it was paved by a mother who would not give up, a realization that he could learn, a relationship with God, and a willingness to do His will. It is a great read for anyone, especially parents. A kids version of the book, written in the third person is also available.