LIFE, DEATH, AND IN BETWEEN by Harold L. Klawans


Tales of Clinical Neurology
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 Neurologist Klawans (Trials of an Expert Witness, 1991, etc.) seems to get better with each volume of instructive medical cases: cleaner prose and less posturing. Here, the overall tone is darker. A number of these essays deal with sickness unto death, with Klawans a strong supporter of the need to respect the right to die and have no heroic measures performed. Some of the stories have made headlines, like that of the father who armed himself with a gun, entered the pediatric ICU, and pulled the plug that was keeping his brain-dead baby alive. He was acquitted, but Klawans points out that there were no legal grounds even for arresting him. Klawans also offers insights into the persona of Jack ``Dr. Death'' Kevorkian, providing details not revealed in the news stories and, on the whole, presenting a sympathetic picture of a man with a mission. Elsewhere, the case histories read like short stories: the nurse who married the businessman with Parkinson's disease and who did all she could to prevent him from getting better (otherwise, what would be her purpose in life?); the beautiful young woman who developed Bell's palsy while engaged to a resident who eventually broke off the engagement because he couldn't adjust to her slightly flawed appearance. There are cautionary tales from the beginning of Klawans's career, and stories of the art-and-literary types who have been his patients and friends. And there's one chilling account of an eminent investigator, about to be feted for his major contributions to research, whom Klawans discovers to have been an SS officer early in his career. A well-told collection from the neurologist's casebook.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1992
ISBN: 1-55778-526-0
Page count: 280pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992


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