A lucid, powerful argument for letting dying patients go gentle into that good night.



Orfali’s compelling manifesto explores the fraught ethics and surprisingly convenient practical details of physician-assisted dying.

In his Grieving a Soulmate, the author recounted the painful closing hours of his wife’s battle with cancer, an experience that inspired this call for voluntary euthanasia as a merciful way of ending the suffering of terminal patients. Here, Orfali surveys the typical American modes of dying and finds them wanting. Death in a hospital intensive care unit, he writes, is “a high-tech nightmare,” and while hospice care is more humane, it too relies on a kind of passive or slow euthanasia—deep sedation and the withholding of life support, food and water—that he finds full of pitfalls. Orfali prefers Oregon’s system of legal euthanasia by self-administered overdose of the barbiturate Nembutal in liquid form—a drug widely used by veterinarians to put down pets—that, he contends, quickly and reliably induces unconsciousness and a peaceful death. He argues that this is “the ultimate form of existential self-empowerment”—a painless, dignified demise on the patient’s own terms and timetable. Orfali presents a knowledgeable and spirited defense of euthanasia against its detractors: studies of assisted dying in Oregon, the Netherlands and Switzerland, he notes, show no slippery slope toward mass euthanasia nor any evidence that the elderly, the disabled or the poor are being pressured into suicide; and “pro-life vitalists” who insist that life should be prolonged no matter the circumstances, he argues, end up imposing unbearable pain on others in the name of an abstract religious moralism. Orfali approaches this agonizing subject with common sense informed by extensive research and an acute sensitivity to the dilemmas faced by dying patients and their families and doctors. The result is a thought-provoking contribution to the debate over this explosive issue.

A lucid, powerful argument for letting dying patients go gentle into that good night.

Pub Date: April 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-1936780181

Page Count: 253

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2011

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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