In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.
Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.
Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.
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 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 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 * Nature * 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 * Dr Gawande writes very well, his book Is deeply humane and I learnt much from it -- Theodor Dalrymple * 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 -- Peter 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 * an impassioned, broad-ranging and deeply personal exploration -- Gavin Francis * Guardian * 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. -- Kate Mosse * 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 *