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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gina M Fullam, BS (Saint Louis University)
Description: This is a collection of previously published articles and one unpublished manuscript by a founder and leader in the field of bioethics.
Purpose: The author suggests a twofold purpose for the collection. First, he notes that his interdisciplinary interests led him to publish in diverse journals, and this book is a way to gather articles representing the breadth of his work in one place in order to reach a wider audience. In addition, the author asserts that the articles are "a good sampler" of his work over more than four decades, representative of significant themes and arguments.
Audience: Each essay is written in the author's characteristically accessible, yet detailed and insightful style. The collection is thus suitable for students and scholars of bioethics, as well as other interested readers.
Features: The author organizes the essays around four themes: (1) bioethics; (2) aging, death, and medical progress; (3) resource allocation; and (4) technology. The choice of articles showcases the author's skill in considering contentious issues from new angles, as well as his willingness to challenge prevailing and well-entrenched sentiments. Regrettably, though original publication records for the articles are listed at the front of the book, it is a bit inconvenient to read time-sensitive information and arguments without dates of reference immediately at hand. This is especially a frustration given that the articles are not arranged chronologically even within the book's four sections.
Assessment: There is notable insight to be gained from the articles a true pioneer in the field chose as representative of his work, as well as from the sections he chose to frame the selection of articles. Nevertheless, the author's recently published autobiography, In Search of the Good: A Life in Bioethics (MIT Press, 2012) more readily provides this insight. The main contribution of this book, then, is the convenience of having the collection of articles in one place, and in this way, perhaps, serving as a companion to the author's memoir.