Controversy in the Age of Medical Miracles
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 Quick takes on a slew of biomedical-ethics issues in down-to-earth, sometimes downright slangy, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may prose. Caplan (If I Were a Rich Man I Could Buy a Pancreas and Other Essays on Medical Ethics, not reviewed), a leading bioethicist and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, has the common touch when it comes to pointing out the implications of the numerous sticky problems modern medicine has generated. He has grouped his essays into 11 categories, including abortion and birth control, genetics, technological reproduction, managed care, starting and stopping care, and assisted suicide. Many of these short pieces had their beginnings as newspaper columns, and it shows. The lead-in is often punchy: ``Abortion kills''; ``Quit blubbering''; ``America is a nation loony over individual liberty.'' The language is often flippant: Sex offenders are ``certified kooks'' and ``creeps,'' Dr. Kevorkian is a ``phony,'' a ``dangerous nut'' waging a ``euthansia jihad''; Congress is filled with ``blockheads.'' The trigger for each story is often a headline of the day, such as Mickey Mantle's speedy liver transplant, O.J. Simpson's acquittal in the face of damning DNA evidence, or presidential candidate Bob Dole's ``gonzo views'' on tobacco. All this no doubt lent these pieces immediacy at the time, but it now makes them seem a bit dated. Further, editing to combine some of these short pieces would have eliminated unnecessary repetition. While the brevity of these essays is often disconcerting, Caplan is alert to new and developing problems, swift at getting to what he sees as the heart of an issue, and emphatic in his opinions. Provocative and accessible. High-school teachers take note: Here's an approachable way to get the kids thinking.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1997
ISBN: 0-471-18344-X
Page count: 282pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1997