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.
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 2014-10-18)
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 2014-10-04)
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 2014-10-09)
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 2014-10-17)
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 2014-10-19)
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 2014-10-18)
A book that everyone should read (Razia Iqbal Saturday Review BBC Radio 4 2014-10-18)