How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter

Overview

Attempting to demythologize the process of dying, Nuland explores how we shall die, each of us in a way that will be unique. Through particular stories of dying—of patients, and of his own family—he examines the seven most common roads to death: old age, cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, accidents, heart disease, and strokes, revealing the facets of death's multiplicity.

"It's impossible to read How We Die without realizing how earnestly we have ...
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Overview

Attempting to demythologize the process of dying, Nuland explores how we shall die, each of us in a way that will be unique. Through particular stories of dying—of patients, and of his own family—he examines the seven most common roads to death: old age, cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, accidents, heart disease, and strokes, revealing the facets of death's multiplicity.

"It's impossible to read How We Die without realizing how earnestly we have avoided this most unavoidable of subjects, how we have protected ourselves by building a cultural wall of myths and lies. I don't know of any writer or scientist who has shown us the face of death as clearly, honestly and compassionately as Sherwin Nuland does here."—James Gleick

Describes the mechanisms of cancer/ heart attack/stroke/AIDS/Alzheimer's/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 1994 NBA nonfiction winner, Yale physician Nuland's study of the clinical, biological and emotional details of dying was a 14-week PW bestseller. (Jan.)
William Beatty
Drawing upon his own broad experience and the characteristics of the six most common death-causing diseases, Nuland examines what death means to the doctor, patient, nurse, administrator, and family. Thought provoking and humane, his is not the usual syrup-and-generality approach to this well-worn topic. Fundamental to it are Nuland's experiences with the deaths of his aunt, his older brother, and a longtime patient. With each of these deaths, he made what he now sees as mistakes of denial, false hope, and refusal to abide by a patient's wishes. Disease, not death, is the real enemy, he reminds us, despite the facts that most deaths are unpleasant, painful, or agonized, and to argue otherwise is to plaster over the truth. The doctor, Nuland stresses, should instill in dying patients the hope not for a miraculous cure but for the dignity and high quality of the remainder of their lives as well as of what they have meant--and will continue to mean--to family, friends, and colleagues. Nuland also has strong feelings about suicide and "assisted death": the doctor should be prepared psychologically and practically to help the longtime patient slip off the scene in relative comfort.
From the Publisher

"Eloquent and uncommonly moving… Nuland writes with unsentimental passion."- Time

"Engrossing… We are in the hands of a remarkable portraitist whose cultivated thought… quietly and informatively instructs and advises us on a subject of universal concern."- The New York Times Book Review

"Nuland's work acknowledges, with unmatched clarity, the harsh realities of how life departs… There is compassion, and often wisdom, in every page."- San Francisco Examiner

"Nuland combines the clinical eye of a physician with… emotional and philosophical reflectiveness."- Newsday
 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780701161699
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Pages: 278

Meet the Author

Sherwin B. Nuland, MD, was Clinical Professor of Surgery at Yale University until his retirement in 2009, though he continues to teach Biomedical Ethics and Medical History to Yale undergraduates, and serve the university in various capacities.  He won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Book Critics Circle Award when this book was initially published.  In hardcover and paperback, How We Die was on the New York Times bestseller list for a total of thirty-four weeks, and has been translated into twenty-nine languages.  Dr. Nuland and his family live in Connecticut.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2004

    Needed to help a loved one die

    This book helps demystify the actual processes of leaving this life. Nuland writes beautifully of technical matters and about the experience of leaving life. I use this in a class about end-of-life issues to reintroduce students to the experience of participating in others' deaths. We 'hospitalize' death so much now that this book can take the place of losing neighbors and family members in a closer-knit society.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2004

    Stark Reality

    I finaly had the courage to read this book having lost two close relatives to cancer in the last 2 years. It is not comforting, but realistic I felt. Having just turned 50 myself, I did not recognize any of the symtoms of deterioating age described for my age group 'yet', but did notice changes I have not noticed before about my 72 year old mother. It definately needs to be read with an ' open' mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2009

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    Posted February 1, 2009

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