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For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn't, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do.
Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end.
Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection, a free visitor destination that explores the connections between medicine, life and art.
Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He is also Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He writes regularly for the New Yorker, and is the author of Better (9781861976574), Complications (9781846681325), The Checklist Manifesto (9781846683145) and Being Mortal (9781846685828).
An impassioned, broad-ranging and deeply personal exploration Guardian Medicine, Being Mortal reminds us, has prepared itself for life but not for death. This is Atul Gawande's most powerful, and moving, book -- Malcolm Gladwell Dr Gawande writes very well, his book Is deeply humane and I learnt much from it -- Theodor Dalrymple Times In this eloquent, moving book Atul Gawande ... explains how and why modern medicine has turned the end of life into something so horrible ... Many passages in "Being Mortal" will bring a lump to the throat, but Dr Gawande also visits places offering a better way to manage life's end Economist We have come to medicalize aging, frailty and death, treating them as if they were just one more medical problem to overcome. It is not just medicine that is needed in one's declining years, but life -a life with meaning, a life as rich and full as possible under the circumstances. Being Mortal is not only wise and deeply moving; it is an essential and insightful book for our times, as one would expect from Atul Gawande, one of our finest physician writers. -- Oliver Sacks It is rare to read a book that sparks so much hard thinking. In my case, it has opened to door to discussions with close relatives about how they wish to spend their final days - conversations that we should surely all be having, however difficult they are to start -- Linda Geddes New Scientist Gawande is hoping to change the medical profession, not human nature, and to do so in a way that is important to us all. His book is so impressive that one can believe that it may well contribute to that end... May it be widely read and inwardly digested -- Diana Athill Financial Times Atul Gawande's wise and courageous book raises the questions that none of us wants to think about...Gawande's concern and dedication shine from every page... that alliance of human feeling with medical knowledge aptly symbolises this remarkable book -- John Carey Sunday Times There is an extraordinary ethical tone to this book and it's a tone that increases and magnifies ... I was in floods of tears, it was so beautifully told. I think this is such an important book.... Everyone needs to read this book -- Alex Preston Saturday Review BBC Radio 4 A book that everyone should read -- Razia Iqbal Saturday Review BBC Radio 4 Beautifully written, humane, moving. -- Abigail Morris, Director of the Jewish Museum Saturday Review BBC Radio 4 This humane and beautifully written book is a manifesto that could radically improve the lives of the aged and the terminally ill -- Leyla Sanai Independent It is to his tremendous credit that Gawande has turned his attention to mortality. We need people of such outstanding intelligence and compassion to consider the ever-growing problems associated with our ageing population. -- Cressida Connolly Spectator His latest book, written with is customary warmth and panache, is a plea to the medical profession and the rest of us to shift away from simply fighting for longer life towards fighting for the things that make life meaningful -- Geraldine Bedell Observer Inspirational and humane, essential reading. Irish Times A fascinating blend of memoir, research, philosophy and personal encounters with patients, he crafts precise, scalpel-sharp prose, creating a powerful narrative about end-of-life choices. Sydney Morning Herald A deeply affecting, urgently important book - one not just about dying and the limits of medicine, but about living to the last with autonomy, dignity and joy. -- Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers Moving, principled and though-provoking. Daily Express
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