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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: William R. Hendee, PhD (Medical College of Wisconsin)
Description: This book is a set of narratives taken from the author's experience as a philosopher/ethicist working with dying patients and their families. The author attempts to understand and describe the joy, pain, loneliness, and hope of the dying, and the difficulties experienced by their families.
Purpose: The author is attempting to convey the true emotions, hopes, and worries of the dying patient and the families of such patients. He states in the preface that "I really am trying to get each story right." This is a noble and very important objective. The author has succeeded very well in meeting his goal without being overly sentimental nor unsympathetically objective.
Audience: The book is written for anyone concerned about the dying patient and how to understand the patient's feelings, wishes, and beliefs. Everyone has the experience of dealing with the death of a loved one and this book is very helpful in providing narratives about the experience. The book would be worthwhile reading for persons in healthcare, but it is equally valuable for the layperson. The author, an emeritus professor of medical ethics and philosophy at Vanderbilt University, is certainly a credible authority.
Features: This short book consists of six narratives (stories) of dying patients and their families. The stories are compelling, and the writing is superb. The author has the capacity to bring the reader into the interaction with the patient. It is difficult to put this book down once one starts.
Assessment: This book is recommended reading for anyone dealing with a dying patient and the family of the patient. Certainly, persons working in healthcare will find the book of considerable interest. But it is written to be equally valuable to a lay audience. It is one of the most well-balanced and insightful books I have read on the subject.