An important contribution to a serious discussion of profound life-and-death issues.

MODERN DEATH

HOW MEDICINE CHANGED THE END OF LIFE

An examination of “our ongoing battle with aging, disease, and death.”

Notwithstanding the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the past century, death has become a taboo subject in polite society. “Never has death been as feared as it is today,” writes Warraich, a cardiology fellow at Duke University Medical Center who expresses the hope that his book will play a part in encouraging a more “honest and open conversation about death” among physicians and among patients and their family members. He explains how advances in the understanding of cellular functioning, coupled with improvements in end-of life treatment such as the ability to resuscitate people with cardiac arrest, have essentially blurred the line between life and death. Consequently, thorny new practical and ethical considerations have arisen regarding quality of life and the right to die: when is it appropriate to terminate the life of a patient in a vegetative coma? Does such a patient have a right to die? If so, who should be empowered to decide when life support should be terminated? Warraich describes how doctors are frequently forced to make such on-the-spot decisions for unconscious patients when relatives are unavailable and in instances where family members disagree. He explains that their training predisposes them to favor life extension even when the prospects of recovery are minimal. The author reviews the well-publicized case of Karen Ann Quinlan to illustrate the conflicts that may arise between doctors and relatives, and he takes an unflinching look at the problem for family caregivers when patients remain at the point of death for prolonged periods. This leads him to a compassionate consideration of physically assisted suicide, instituted when a patient expresses the desire to terminate his or her life rather than suffer a terminal illness. Warraich concludes this sensitive review of a painful subject with guarded optimism that a cultural shift toward open discussion is now occurring.

An important contribution to a serious discussion of profound life-and-death issues.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10458-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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