Fighting for Life

Fighting for Life

The Twelve Battles that Made Our NHS, and the Struggle for Its Future


'The book the NHS has always deserved' Andrew Marr

'A sensational and much-needed book . . . thorough, scholarly and above all readable' Chris van Tulleken


How does our National Health Service really work, and what does that mean for our future?

Since its foundation in 1948, the NHS has come to define our national identity, making history (and the headlines) again and again - from cutting edge discoveries like the first 'test tube baby', to its heroic response to the Coronavirus crisis. But the NHS has also become a battleground for some of the fiercest political contests of our time, perceived either as a national treasure, or as a lumbering piece of state machinery in need of renovation.

In Fighting for Life, bestselling journalist Isabel Hardman cuts through the sentimentality and sloganeering on all sides of the political spectrum. Packed with gripping stories from the people at the beating heart of this venerated institution - its nurses, its doctors, its patients and the politicians who decide its fate - this is the essential book for understanding our NHS, and who we are as a nation.


  • A compelling, deftly constructed and powerfully told narrative . . . Hardman is a meticulous journalist with a gift for storytelling. Necessary reading
    Rafael Behr, Guardian

About the author

Isabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is the Assistant Editor of the Spectator and also presents Radio 4's Week in Westminster. In 2015 she was named the youngest ever Political Journalist of the Year by the Political Studies Association. She appears regularly on TV and radio, including Have I Got News for You, The Andrew Marr Show, The News Quiz, Today programme, Question Time and Sky News. She also writes columns for The Times, The Guardian, The Sun, The Observer, Evening Standard, and the Daily Telegraph.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more