Expert

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

What could a lacemaker have in common with vascular surgeons? A Savile Row tailor with molecular scientists? A fighter pilot with jazz musicians? At first glance, very little. But Roger Kneebone, an expert on experts, has spent his life finding unexpected connections.

Kneebone maps out a path we’re all following, whether in our career or any other part of our lives. He shows how you start by ‘doing time’ as an Apprentice, copying how things are already done. Then you set out on your own as a Journeyman, developing your ‘voice’ and taking full responsibility for your work, with its successes and inevitable failures. Finally, you become a Master, passing on your knowledge and skill to future generations. Expert explains the internal processes we all have to go through as we edge forwards.

In this groundbreaking book, Kneebone combines his own experiences as a doctor with insights from extraordinary people and cutting-edge research. He tells a story that resonates with us all – the story of how we can become expert. Whether you’re developing a new career, studying a language, learning a musical instrument or simply becoming the person you want to be, Expert reveals the path to mastery and shows what lies ahead.

‘Roger Kneebone is a legend’ Mark Miodownik, author of Stuff Matters

‘Superbly written, passionately argued and very necessary’ Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen

‘The doctor stitching together medicine and art’ Guardian

‘If you want to do anything better, from surgery to embroidery, you can learn something from this book’ Christopher Peters, Imperial College London

‘Kneebone is our foremost expert on expertise. Expert is a desperately important book at a moment when we’ve begun to wonder just what we might still be good at’ Ken Arnold, Wellcome Collection

‘Whisper it quietly, but post COVID-19, there is a growing realization that experts do matter’ Susan Standring, King’s College London

© Roger Kneebone 2020 (P) Penguin Audio 2020

Critics Review

  • Roger Kneebone is a legend

    Mark Miodownik, author of Stuff Matters
  • Fascinating and inspiring

    Financial Times
  • The doctor stitching together medicine and art

    Guardian
  • Examines the ubiquitous, but understudied, process of becoming an expert

    New Scientist
  • Roger Kneebone has an insatiable desire to understand what makes people tick and for years has scratched this itch by bringing together countless interesting people to share their experience and knowledge. This book on experts is a wonderful manifestation of what he has learnt. If you want to do anything better, from surgery to embroidery, you can learn something from this book

    Christopher Peters FRCS, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Consultant Upper GI and General Surgeon, Imperial College London
  • Roger Kneebone describes a journey that has no short cuts and no end. He tracks the inside story of becoming an expert, documenting a time line that stretches from the state of knowing nothing to passing on the wisdom of a lifetime. He draws out common themes between his experiences as a medical student, surgeon, GP, educator, academic, harpsichord player and sometime juggler with those of men and women working creatively in design studios, workshops and performance spaces, all of them now experts in their own fields. His refutation of the view that experts are an irrelevant, ‘useless elite’ is compelling and chilling in equal measure. Whisper it quietly, but post COVID-19, there is a growing realisation that experts do matter. I wish this book had been available when I was a student – it is full of wisdom, insight, humanity and encouragement. We should all aim to cross the ‘ha-ha’

    Susan Standring, Emeritus Professor of Anatomy, King's College London

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