In 1996 I was the Ulam Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While I was there I gave a series of graduate lectures on high-dimensional manifold theory, which I whimsically titled Surgery for Amateurs.
The title was supposed to express that I was coming to the subject from outside – basically, trying to answer to my own satisfaction the question “What is this Novikov Conjecture you keep talking about?” Perhaps because of their amateurish nature, though, these lectures struck a chord, and I have received many requests for reprints of the lecture notes. In 2004 I began a project of revising them with the help of Andrew Ranicki; but, alas, other parts of life intervened, and the proposed book never got finished.
Obviously some people still value the material, and my plan is to try and republish it in blog form, along with comments and discussion. The Surgery for Amateurs blog is now live and your participation is welcomed!