Being Mortal
In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

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Being Mortal Reviews

  • Lilo
    Sep 24, 2016


    This is going to be a very short review. I just simply say:If you think you might get older as time goes by and/or think you might even die at some time (or have relatives or other loved ones to whom this might apply), I urge you to read this book. And if you happen to be over 50 (or c...

  • Jim
    Sep 18, 2016


    This is very well read, amazingly relevant, & accessible. It's filled with real world examples as well as a few statistics. It is a must-read for everyone young (teens up) or old because we don't think about our end days properly or even ask the right questions. Worse, we don't und...

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Sep 11, 2016

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    "It is a modern tragedy, replayed millions of times over. When there is no way of knowing exactly how long our skeins will run - and when we imagine ourselves to have much more time than we do - our every impulse is to fight, to die with chemo in our veins or a tube in our throats or f...

  • Erika
    Aug 28, 2016


    This is a brilliant, fascinating, and extremely important book. I wish I had read it before my mother died because I would have asked her more probing questions about her priorities in the last couple of months of her life. Yet while Being Mortal made me regret the conversations I didn...

  • Rebecca Foster
    Apr 12, 2016

    Rebecca Foster

    An essential guide to decision-making about end-of-life care, but also a more philosophical treatment of the question of what makes life worth living. When should we extend life, and when should we concentrate more on the quality of our remaining days than their quantity? Most of the b...

  • Debbie
    Jan 29, 2016


    If you’re not afraid of dying, you’re either lucky or lying.Meanwhile, this book gave me the heebee-jeebees! Did I really need to know that as I age my aorta will get crunchy and my shrinking brain will rattle around in my skull? Or did I need to know (and perhaps forever vis...

  • James Barker
    Jan 12, 2016

    James Barker

    It is commonly phrased that we battle illness. But this remarkable book by Atul Gawande points out that it is an ill-thought battle and, dare I say it, an ill-fought one.For the last three years of my wonderful mother’s life I was her carer. Coping with the advanced stages of mult...

  • Petra X
    Dec 22, 2015

    Petra X

    This is brilliant. I'm having a good run of 5* books at the moment. Atul Gawande refers several times to The Death of Ivan Ilych so now I have to read that. I like it how one book leads to another sometimes. ...

  • Dana Stabenow
    Dec 19, 2015

    Dana Stabenow

    I give this book five stars not because I loved it but because it is what I would call a necessary read, and I mean necessary for everyone, young, old, medical professional and laity alike. It's about That Conversation, what Gawande calls in one chapter "Hard Conversations." The subjec...

  • Cathrine ☯
    Dec 14, 2015

    Cathrine ☯

    Remember the scene in The Matrix when Laurence Fishburne asks Keanu Reeves whether he wants to swallow the red pill or the blue pill? In his very excellent book Dr. Gawande uses that analogy to discuss the manner in which a physician attempts to discuss treatment options with a patient...