Surgeon and MacArthur fellow Atul Gawande’s new book considers a more balanced relationship between end-of-life care and quality-of-life.
Whether you can’t wait to read the book, or already read and loved it, here are five more books that tackle our cultural perspective on doctors, patients, aging and death:
Final Exam: A surgeon’s reflections on mortality
by Pauline W. Chen
Chen recounts her experience with dying and dead persons, starting with her first dead “patient” – the woman she dissected in anatomy class. She continues with the many, many deaths she witnessed as an intern, resident and later, recounting her own failures to “be there” for dying patients and their loved ones. And she recalls good physician dealings with death – those of doctors she learned from and, finally, her own.
Never Say Die: the Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age
by Susan Jacoby
In a narrative that combines the intensely personal with social, economic, and historical analysis, Jacoby turns an unsparing eye on the marketers of longevity–pharmaceutical companies, lifestyle gurus, and scientific businessmen who suggest that there will soon be a “cure” for the “disease” of aging.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
by Katy Butler
When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker that caused her eighty-four-year-old father’s heart to outlive his brain, Katy Butler, an award-winning science writer, embarked on a quest to understand why modern medicine was depriving him of a humane, timely death.
A frank portrayal of the medical care of dying people past and present, The Inevitable Hour helps to explain why a movement to restore dignity to the dying arose in the early 1970s and why its goals have been so difficult to achieve.
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance
by Atul Gawande
Gawande’s second book is a collection of essays about medical professionals and places where “better” either has or is becoming the norm, and where excellence is a journey rather than a destination.