Dr. Brian H. Williams at Harvard Book Store
The Bodies Keep Coming:
Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon
on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal
in conversation with AMBER PAYNE
September 28, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes DR. BRIAN H. WILLIAMS—Air Force Academy graduate, Harvard-trained surgeon, and former congressional health policy advisor—for a discussion of his new memoir The Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal. He will be joined in conversation by AMBER PAYNE, Publisher and General Manager of The Emancipator.
About The Bodies Keep Coming
Trauma surgeon and professor Dr. Brian H. Williams has seen it all: gunshot wounds, stabbings, and traumatic brain injuries. In The Bodies Keep Coming, Williams ushers us into the trauma bay, where the wounds of a national emergency amass.
As a Harvard-trained physician, Williams learned to keep his head down and his scalpel ready. As a Black man, he learned to swallow the rage when patients told him to take out the trash. Just days after the tragic police shootings of two Black men, Williams tried to save the lives of police officers shot in Dallas in the deadliest incident for US law enforcement since 9/11. Thrust into the spotlight in a nation that loves feel-good stories about heroism more than hard truths about racism, Williams came to rethink everything he thought he knew about medicine, injustice, and what true healing looks like.
Now, in raw and intimate detail, Williams narrates not only the events of that night in 2016, but the grief and anger of a Black doctor on the front lines of trauma care. Working in the physician-writer tradition of Atul Gawande and Damon Tweedy, Williams diagnoses the roots of the violence that plagues us. He draws a through line between white supremacy, gun violence, and the bodies he tries to revive, and he trains his surgeon's gaze on the structural ills that manifest themselves in the bodies of his patients. What if racism is a feature of our healthcare system, not a bug? What if profiting from racial inequality is exactly what it was designed to do?
Black and brown bodies will continue to be wracked by all types of violence, Williams argues, until something changes. Until we transform policy and law with compassion and care, the bodies will keep coming.
Praise for The Bodies Keep Coming
"The hallmark of a great surgeon lies beyond the ability to perform surgery. Those who transform medicine, make us question medical and societal establishments, and are brave enough to put racial equity front and center are the real heroes. Dr. Brian H. Williams is one of those extraordinary physicians. In The Bodies Keep Coming, he shares frontline stories through his eyes as a trauma surgeon. Dr. Williams is a masterful storyteller, and you can hear and feel his authenticity on every page. Empathy, anger, humor, and, ultimately, hope accompany you as he takes you on this literary ride." —Dr. Nancy Snyderman, surgeon and former medical editor for NBC News
"In this beautifully written memoir, Dr. Brian H. Williams reveals through jarring personal remembrances the destruction of violence in the American medical system and our society. Although he could have simply offered up a narrative devoid of hope, Williams leaves readers hopeful that healing exists for us all through love." —Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, author of Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology
"Dr. Brian H. Williams's stunning book is simultaneously an inspiring testament to the skill and dedication of the people working on the medical front lines of America's enduring tragedy of gun violence, and a searing indictment of the pervasive institutional racism that brought us that tragedy in the first place and continues to sustain it. It is not a comfortable read, but it is an essential one." —Dr. Elliott Currie, author of New York Times Notable Book of 2020 A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
More questions? Give us a call!
Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!
Shipping & Pickup
We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!Learn More »
Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!
Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.Learn More »